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[CEA] DPE Course Student Survey

Dear fellow Ephs,

Last year, the faculty of the College passed a motion introducing a new curricular requirement to replace the Exploring Diversity Initiative. Starting Fall 2018, courses will be offered as part of the College’s new Difference, Power, and Equity requirement (DPE). DPE courses examine the mechanisms, histories, and practices behind social, political and philosophical structures of difference and power. They are centrally focused around issues of difference, diversity, inequality, and/or inclusivity.
The Committee on Educational Affairs would like to solicit suggestions for topics that students would like to investigate in DPE courses.
A brief disclaimer: the DPE initiative is new, and these suggestions will contribute to the long term discussion about courses that will be offered in the future, but are not guaranteed to be developed into courses in the coming semesters.
Suggested areas of study may include but are not limited to: ability/disability, body size, citizenship status, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic background. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but should give an idea of the types of issues that might be examined in a DPE course.
Suggestions may be submitted here: https://goo.gl/forms/t2IfnEFHcZSc2JvV2The form will close 11/26.
Thanks so much for your participation!
Best,
The Committee on Educational Affairs
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Eph Community Attitudes on Sexual Assault

Dear Williams students,

 

In 2015, we collected our first-ever comprehensive survey data about sexual and other intimate violence at Williams. 64% of students participated (a response rate that has never been topped nationally), and the data helped us modify response protocols and has shaped our prevention programs over the last 2 years.

 

It’s time to look again at our progress and to see where we still have work to do, and your participation in this work is invaluable.

 

Share your perspective by taking the survey.

 

Your responses to this survey are anonymous. You can expect it to take between 20-25 minutes to complete.

 

You may find, during or after the survey, that you want to talk more about the issues raised in it.

 

  • SASS (413-597-3000)

    • 24/7

    • Confidential support from staff

    • SASS staff are myself, Carolina Echenique from Admissions, Donna Denelli-Hess from the Health Center, Jen Chuks from Athletics, Mike Evans from the Zilkha Center, and Rick Spalding, the Chaplain.)

  • RASAN (413-597-4100)

    • 24/7

    • Peer support

    • Also has walk-in office hours at Sawyer 508 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8pm-10pm. RASAN welcomes survivors and supporters of survivors to use this as a space in which they can fill out the survey if they’d like on-hand support.

  • The Elizabeth Freeman Center (866-401-2425)

    • 24/7

    • Confidential off-campus support is available 24/7 via The Elizabeth Freeman Center at.

 

Thank you,

 

Meg Bossong ’05

Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response

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@WilliamsRapists

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The Record should cover this story without, obviously, mentioning the names of the anonymously accused. Former faculty member KC Johnson chimes in with:

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Too many words …

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How many thousands of words must be exchanged between real Ephs and JCD about his status, either real or perceived?

Dave, is there no cut-off point at which you can stop this inanity? It is repetitious and goes back to at least 2009 with the same deleterious dialogue!

David Dudley Field ’25 says:

Fair point!  Surely we can all do better!?!

 

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Toaist Thanksgiving

A moving post from Professor Sam Crane:

It is a perfect Thanksgiving morning here in Northwestern Massachusetts: a light snow, about 2 inches on the ground; a chill air; great conditions to be inside and cooking and eating all day. Aidan and I are here by ourselves, however. Maureen and Maggie are down in New York City, attending the famous parade. So, we will do the whole feast thing tomorrow. Today will be just about pie baking: I have a couple of small pumpkins to bake and make into a pie. If I feel ambitious, perhaps an apple pie will follow. That will make the house warm and comfortable.

We are supposed to be thankful today, and I am. But as I give thanks I can’t help wondering: for what am I giving thanks and to whom? As is my want, I fall back on Taoism to help clarify my thoughts. And, through that exercise, I come to a somewhat startling realization: I give thanks for Aidan and his profound disability. I know that sounds a bit bizarre – how could a parent be thankful for a child’s disability? – but, as I think through it, I am happy to say that I am.

Read the whole thing. Aidan left us 11 years ago, but his memory and spirit live on, not just in those who knew him personally but in all those touched by Sam’s writing. Try as hard as I might, I worry that I was never half the father to my daughters that Sam was to his son.

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Truly Excellent

A recent alum now in graduate school at a super fancy university writes:

One thing you’ve said which I now realize is true: the teaching at Williams is truly excellent. I used to think all the talk about small classes and the teaching quality was BS intended to make us feel better about not getting into Harvard, but no. There are a lot of professors at REDACTED that probably spend at maximum 30 minutes a week on a class they teach, reviewing a PowerPoint they made 5 years ago in order to drone through it without interruption during class. They make some of the coolest subjects like “remote sensing systems” absolutely boring. As a grad student, I’m here for research so it’s fine for me, but it would be tough if I was an undergrad. Perhaps this is something the Williams administration should try be more convincing in recruiting because as I said, I thought it was BS, and I probably wasn’t alone.

Indeed. Note how little pressure there is at Williams to do a better job at recruiting students, at demonstrating the truth that the undergraduate academic experience is much better here than at Fancy Research University. Has anyone at Williams ever gotten fired for failing to do this? Has anyone been promoted for doing it well? Does anyone even bother to measure what works and what does not in this area? Pointers welcome!

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Rare tape of JCD’s Williams mentor found!

“This man taught me everything I know. What a pleasure that this tape of our shared times has been found!” said JCD.

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Funny Way of ‘Listening’

Zach Wood ’18 writes in the Wall Street Journal:

‘You’re a racist white supremacist!” a Williams College student shouted at Christina Hoff Sommers, after she finished a recent campus talk on feminism.

To their credit, a handful of students responded to Ms. Sommers’s talk with challenging questions and cogent criticisms. But insults, rants and meltdowns consumed the majority of the question-and-answer session. As president of Uncomfortable Learning, a student group that invites controversial speakers to campus, I did my best to moderate.

We discussed this event here. Did Williams record the event? If so, where is the video? If not, why not? From the snippets we have seen, Zach was a good moderator, especially in his attempts to guide questioners to, you know, actually asking a question instead of giving a speech.

After one student activist shouted “f— you!” at the speaker, an administrator seemed to affirm the heckler’s veto, signaling to me with a timeout gesture that it was time to end the event. In an effort to give as many students as possible a chance to engage the speaker, I approached the administrator and negotiated another 15 minutes for questions. But the remainder of the Q&A consisted mostly of bellicose rhetoric and long-winded stories of personal trauma, many of which had little to do with the topic at hand. Ms. Sommers, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and critic of third-wave feminism, endured such “questioning” for more than an hour.

Who is the unnamed “administrator?” What advice do you have for Zach/Williams for making the Q&A at the next such event more productive?

As a college senior eager to engage in lively debate, I’m disappointed in students who used this event as an opportunity to taunt and disparage a speaker who made every effort to engage in good faith. Although many student activists at Williams seem hostile to conservative ideas, I believe all of my peers are capable of disagreeing without being disagreeable.

Zach is being too generous. The videos we have seen provide ample evidence that at least some of his peers are incapable of having a meaningful Q&A with a speaker like Sommers. But whose fault is that? The Williams faculty! They have an obligation to teach students how to participate in the give-and-take of debate, especially with people whose views make them uncomfortable.

But college administrators aren’t much help. Since Ms. Sommers’s talk at Williams, my college’s president, Adam Falk, has characterized the event as a success. He wrote in the Washington Post this week that “our students listened closely, then responded with challenging questions and in some cases blunt critiques.”

That grossly misrepresents what happened. During Ms. Sommers’s talk, many students did not “listen closely.” Instead, they acted disruptively by mocking her and snickering derisively throughout her entire speech.

True. We need to see the entire video. And isn’t it embarrassing that the Record has still provided no news coverage of this event? Still not too late though! Any event mentioned in both the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal merits news coverage, even if it is belated.

For each “challenging question,” there were at least five personal attacks, directed either at her or at me for inviting her. One student started yelling aggressively, blaming me for his parents’ qualms about his sexual orientation. His rant lasted for at least five minutes. Other students stood up and exclaimed that they were better than the speaker because she was “stupid, harmful, and white supremacist.”

Is Zach exaggerating? Tough to know without better coverage from the Record.

Shortly after the event, I heard from several friends that many members of the Black Student Union want nothing to do with me or other black students associated with Uncomfortable Learning. I expect this kind of recrimination. But I can’t speak for other students who’ve told me they worry about how their interest in my group may affect their relationship with their black classmates.

Indeed. Perhaps the most disquieting part of the debate over Uncomfortable Learning is the palpable fear that non-SJW students have over being associated with, or even appearing to be sympathetic to, UL, much less to, say, Donald Trump. I had hopes that the newly created Republican Club in campus would help. Have they done anything this year?

Ignoring the attacks directed at controversial speakers and the students who invite them propagates the misconception that Williams, and other American colleges, welcomes intellectual diversity. Things won’t get any better until college administrators like Mr. Falk honestly confront the threats to open debate at the institutions they lead.

Exactly correct.

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Wilansky ’16 One Year Later

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From The New York Post:

A year ago Tuesday, Sophia Wilansky stood on a bridge just outside the Dakota Access Pipeline encampment when she was flattened by a deafening explosion.

She refused to look down at her left hand, because she could not feel it and feared it had been blown off.

It became the emblematic moment of violence in the 10-month standoff between authorities and protestors, and it is not known if the metal shrapnel that tore through Sophia’s forearm came from a cop’s concussion grenade or a protester’s propane-tank bomb.

Previous coverage here.

Four surgeries later and still under FBI suspicion, the 22-year-old activist from Riverdale spoke publicly for the first time about the horror of Nov. 21, 2016.

It was 4 a.m. and the Williams College theater grad and lawyer’s daughter was on guard duty at the Backwater Bridge near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. It was dark, and she was bundled up in a puffer jacket against the 20-degree temperature.

She had volunteered, along with three others, to hold the ground in front of the span, which the protest army had cleared of police- and pipeline-company barricades earlier in the day.

Suddenly a cop on a loudspeaker yelled, “Get away!”

Instantly she was hit by three rubber bullets, in the groin, chest and left arm. She fumbled to pick up a plastic shield, but the onslaught escalated.

“I heard a loud blast and was knocked to the ground,” said Wilansky. “I was in complete shock.”

The explosion had ripped out the radius bone, muscle, nerves and arteries of her left arm, and her hand was hanging by a few threads of flesh.

Her comrades scooped her up, carried her to their car and drove about 30 minutes to a waiting ambulance at a local casino.

“It was the most painful thing I ever felt, but it didn’t make sense in that situation to freak out,” she said. “I just kept thinking about how I would soon be in a hospital with pain meds.”

With her free hand, she texted friends and posted on Facebook.

The post has since been taken down, and in the spring the FBI applied for a warrant to search her Facebook account as the feds sought evidence of Wilansky’s possible connection to homemade explosives, according to court documents unsealed last month.

She has not been charged, and her lawyer says the probe is baseless.

“It was intended to scare her and other [protesters] from speaking out about that incident,” said Lauren Regan, who heads the Civil Liberties Defense Center.

Wilansky says she plans to sue to procure the shrapnel and clothing removed by surgeons and collected by the feds, in order to use the evidence in legal actions she will pursue against the law enforcement agencies she believes hurt her that day.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Office denies using a concussion grenade or any explosive device that day.

“Those are lethal devices and those are not even something [the department] ever had or has in its inventory,” said Morton County spokeswoman Maxine Herr. She said police fired sponge and bean-bag rounds and one stinger ball, which launches dozens of tiny rubber balls and gas.

Police claim Wilansky and three others refused orders to emerge from behind a shield. Officers said they saw someone roll metal cylinders toward the protesters and three propane canisters were found where the explosion took place, Herr said.

Wilansky’s injury was the most severe to result from the protest led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, who feared the oil pipeline would pollute their drinking water and intrude on sacred grounds. The Obama administration temporarily halted the project, but it was completed under President Trump in June.

Wilansky, who can no longer use her left hand and has very little feeling in her arm, vows to continue the fight against climate change and for the rights of indigenous people.

“I will not let the threat of being injured or prosecuted deter me from standing up for what I believe in,” she declared.

If Wilansky were my daughter, I would be both proud of her courage and terrified for her future.

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Bending Straws

 

In the 1980s, during my initial stint as an impressionable student in the academy, I spent my Sundays toiling as a manager down at the club. The edifice was on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. The club was housed in a single story elongated rectangular brown painted cinderblock building. The locality had a sleek and swanky fashion, which was in vogue during the height of the Nixonian modern urban renewal architectural period.

We habitually hung a sign that advertised for a porter at the entrance of the club, as good help in those days was hard to find. The economy in Boston during the ‘Massachusetts miracle’ had made the help terribly fickle, due to an over-abundance of well-paying jobs. We paid the minimum of course, with the offer of a free jigger of spirits if the good lad who held the door happened to get his nose broken while attempting to break up an altercation. Hiring help that had learned how to look the other way was of great importance to the elite clientele.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was one block down the avenue from the establishment, and the gents from the fraternities frequented the place. They were certainly not the men of Harvard, but still worth a listen. For some quirky reason math and science was of more importance than finance to those young men? I must confess that in actuality, we cared very little for where a young gentleman went to college. It was the family accent that truly enlightened us. “But yes of course, of course you go to Harvard,” we would say, “but where did you prep, where did you prep, my good man? Choate, Exeter, Groton?”

The lounge in the club was of the highest order. We had five tiers of the finest victuals. From the tap we served the latest fashionable beer. The floors were a greying black, as the wood was well worn and sticky from years of grand tradition. Neon Budweiser signs, and posters advertising various other upscale varieties, adorned the walls. We had several dart boards so that the lads could relax and play whilst enjoying a Pabst after a hard day at the academy.

It was on early Sunday afternoons, whilst I was cutting my teeth with this first internship in management, that three men from Zeta Psi would come to play a bit of “Pitch”. Pitch was a fantastic game, although I have heard from those still laboring at the club that it has since fallen out of favor.

The ladies from the Boston Women’s Rugby league would also show up for some pints after their Sunday scrums. They were always so lovely. Stout and severe, broad and menacing, as all proper women should be. Sauntering into the club in their attirement of proper shorts, knee high socks, and cleats; striped rugby shirts of red and white, draping their sweat laden bodies with a sophisticated mud covered embroidery. Oh, the traditional songs which they would sing! In unison they would chorus the moral fiber of femininity. Old whimsical choruses, such as “Barnacle Bill the Sailor” and “Bestiality’s Best” were my favorites. I still fondly remember the ensembles.

It is a pity that the singing of such songs of tradition has fallen out of favor. One never hears such songs the way we used to in public anymore. Sadly, what once identified the beauty of societal order in the hallowed halls of our elite institutions now runs against the grain. Perhaps it is this blasted cell phone culture that has turned everyone into a philistine moralist of some kind? Moments can be captured out of context by the simplest of passersby, and posted for commoners’ consumption on the YouTube. It is a shame that such happenings can no longer be kept within the higher circles of moral clarity.

It was during such moral conventions that the men of the Institute of Technologies’ Zeta Psi would sit at my bar and play Pitch. They would listen to the sweet choruses of the rugby ladies, as they drank the odd mixes of spirits associated with the game. The three Pitch players were Andrew, Duncan, and Remy. All three were from the finest lineage, but for whatever reason, had found a love of science over money? The particular mixology of the game clearly excited their participation in the sport of it. This ritual of Pitch was indeed a fashionable Sunday science project, as much as it was a game, or a sport.

 

       But it was a game of the highest order, and one needed to know the exact regulations!

 

First, it was only to be played on the holiest of days. On Sunday afternoons, that was when the three young men would stop by our posh establishment for a fine game of Pitch. They would come to me as they would a doctor, suffering greatly from the burden of too much blood in their alcohol systems. With the Saturday evening fraternity foray not far behind them, they were itching for a game of remedy!

Second, and of high importance, was the bending of straws. Sitting at the lounge countertop they would make a circle out of the drinking straws. It is easily done. You fold the end of one straw over itself, insert that into the hole of another straw, and then repeat that process until you join both ends to connect the straws together. Then you would enjoin the straws together to form a circle. In doing this, you can customize the diameter. As their mixologist and referee I would measure the circular straw throwing devices. The regulation size was six connected red cocktail straws.

Third, and of utmost importance to the common busboy, was the positioning of wastebaskets. You needed two, placed in between the three players. Player – wastebasket – player – wastebasket – player: in that exact order. The wastebaskets had to be of the common plastic variety, certainly not wood, and god forbid, never wicker. The liners were to be left out, as the ability for the busboy to rinse the receptacles cleanly with a hose outside near the street water drain was paramount.

Fourth, the playing field was the bar. Players were seated at the bar, with a normal positioning: facing the liquor shelves that were about eight feet behind the bar countertop. The seating arrangement was important, as the loser from last week’s game always pitched first. He would be placed seated at the far right of the bartender (me), or the left hand side of the other two players, from the perspective of a customer.

The rules of the gameplay were fairly simple. Once the game was set up, with the three players seated, trashcans properly placed and the straws bent into regulation size circles; myself as mixologist and referee, would call the time. Each player had two minutes to pitch. The pitch of the circle of straws took place from a seated position. Standing for an advantage was forbidden. The straw circle was pitched at the liquor bottles on the shelves behind the bar. A player would throw the red straw circle at the bottles of victuals that were shelved in tiers against the wall behind the bar. Underhand was the technique, as if softly throwing a horseshoe. Again, this was about an eight-foot shot.

It was a well-stocked club, with five tiers of finest varieties, elongated on each shelf. Irish, scotch, Canadian, bourbon, blends, schnapps of all flavors, creams such as Baily’s, liquors such as Kahlua, spiced rums; etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. All of it was in play. The mixologist (me), would blend the liquor that the thrown bar straw circle enveloped.

The circumference of the straw circle had the ability to encapsulate up to four bottles on the shelf, but normally only two or three. For example; a pitch could encircle Peachtree schnapps, Drambuie scotch, and Tanqueray gin. I would gather these three bottles, and pour the mix into a single shot glass. One player would pitch, and the player next in the order, the “receiver”, would drink the mix. After each pitch the drinking player had one minute to drink the mix. Two minutes to throw, one minute to drink.

This continued until someone lost the test of endurance. At some juncture a red faced player would be exhausted, and unable to contain himself- you lost when your fluids flew, even if you could still stomach a drink afterwards. The loser paid in bodily fluid as well as coin, as per regulation because the loser purchased the bar tab for the event. The duration and outcome of the game had a great deal to do with skill and conditioning, the normal characteristics of any athletic endeavor.

On most occasions, the rugby women would be singing, and stopping to watch and cheer the action. This added greatly to the ambiance the game. There was one stout but shorter African American female rugby player who had an intense Mohawk. She always took great interest in the game. She watched with glee and fascination while jutting about the Pitch competitors- but paying respect to never interrupt the field of paly. This always got the other mud-clad ladies to add tidbits and jeers as the men struggled to keep their composure.

The sport often became very intense towards the end, and one Sunday was no exception. This time, when Remy, who had lost last week, starting to become ill from exhaustion, found his seating and stayed in the game for the love of the contest! It was a noble sight indeed. The players were covering mouths with hands, and dry heaving whilst caught in the clutches of the exhilarating competition. All the while the ladies were singing gleefully and hoisting spirits. But the agony of defeat came suddenly, as it often did, when Duncan lost control of his oral function, hurling wild amounts of noxiously blended booze into one of the well placed plastic cans.

The thrill of victory for the Remy and Andrew, hands held high, was first rate. They even gave each other the plebian recognition of the high five, as they found their sea legs with the exhilaration of the victory. It was a testament to their endurance that they were not so badly staggered by the liquid-curdling war of attrition. The sportsmanship on display that Sunday would have made any college sports commentator proud. Players gave hard encouraging slaps on the back to each other as the intensity of the play heightened! The crescendo of the competition came when Duncan finally succumbed and placed his face in one of the cans, whilst his competitors heartily encouraged him with rubs of the hair and slaps on the back. Howard Cosell would have been proud.

 

Having come from such a place: from within the hallowed halls of such academic diversity and inclusion, is it any wonder that I now spend my days in elite college towns, polishing my social graces with the younger lads? Of course, the ladies and gentlemen these days are in search of the same things we craved when we were but mere babe socialites at the club playing Pitch.

 

Upon picking up The Record several months ago I was shocked to see that all of the finer parts of etiquette are now to be legally missing. How will our youngsters grow without the facility to have a good stab at diversity, just as we did? After all, the contemporary truth is the same as it was back in our time as young ladies and gentlemen down at the club, is it not? Hard liquor is essential to enhance the finer points of decorum. We are asking the lads to give up a very important part of their propriety. It is the blending of spirits at elite clubs and in fraternity basements that fosters the greatest moments of clarity! As explained, it was while bending straws down at the club when I learned about the hegemony of a diverse synergy within the fusion of the paradigm.

Whilst first reading the news of the ban on hard liquor at Williams I burst out of my chair and exclaimed, “Good God Adam no, let it not be so!”

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Let’s Have Completely Blind Admissions

Williams College is currently a need-blind in its admission process for national students (not so for international students). That by itself is a good thing, but isn’t that still leaving space for the admissions office to discriminate against potential students through other factors–say, if they’re white or black, a legacy student, or from a nice family in North Adams?

I propose that Williams expand its blind admission policy to all factors that don’t immediately relate to an applicant’s academics and (certain) extracurriculars. The school wouldn’t know if the 1580 SAT score and 4.0 GPA comes from a white, upper class student from Los Angeles or a working class black student from Chicago. Whether you share a last name with a big donor of the campus goes unnoticed by the admissions office. You won an interscholastic competition? Great, that gets considered. But they won’t know or care if you’re president of the Asian students club of your high school.

Regarding international students, the policy will affect them in the same manner. All that will be known are their academics and their status as an international applicant.

This new policy has the potential to boost the already respectable academic achievement of the campus. High school GPA correlates with college GPA, and the SAT predicts for future academic success. It follows that a selecting for students who perform and score the best in high school will likely select for the students who will get the most out of college.

I leave this idea for you to entertain.

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Falk Libels Derbyshire

Adam Falk squawked this swan song in the Washington Post, revisiting the Senate hearing featuring Zach Wood ’18 and Frederick Lawrence ’77 which discussed Falk’s decision to cancel a Williams speech by John Derbyshire.

1) I have put the entire article below the break. Jeff Bezos is rich enough without your dollar.

2) Why write this article now? Falk has six weeks left as Williams president. His new role at the Sloane Foundation has, fortunately, nothing to do with free speech on campus. Does this article help Williams? Not that I can see. The Derbyshire cancellation, while perhaps justified, is nothing but a reputational black eye for Williams. Bringing it up again only hurts the College. He could have easily waited six months and left Williams out of the conversation.

3) Worse part of the article is Falk’s libel of John Derbyshire as a “self-described white supremacist.” If you call someone a “self-described” X, you better have evidence of him describing himself as X. Falk can write that “Derbyshire is a white supremacist” or that “Derbyshire is a poopy head.” That is Falk’s opinion. Even if he is wrong, it would be hard for Derbyshire to prove it. But it is much easier for Derbyshire to sue Falk (and Williams?) for libel given that there is no evidence that Derbyshire has ever described himself as a “white supremacist.” Perhaps some Eph attorneys could forecast how such a suit might go?

4) I asked Falk for a citation on this point. He fobbed the question off to Jim Reische, who pointed to this article. Alas, this makes the exact opposite point! Derbyshire considers a wide range of possible names for his position, including “Alternative Right,” “White Supremacist,” and “White Nationalist.” He rejects them all, settling on “Dissident Right.” If this is the best/only evidence that Falk has, I suspect he might have set himself up for some legal trouble . . . Informed commentary welcome!

Read more

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Haughty

From a recent comment thread:

This is an interesting topic. I went to Williams for undergrad, then sequentially to a Midwest state flagship and Harvard for graduate studies.

Of the three, Williams had by far largest number of cocky, arrogant blowhards. My analysis of this is as follows: The state flagship students were fairly middle-class and quite comfortable with their place in the world. The Harvard students were understandably confident with their status, not boastful about it, and not condescending toward other institutions. The Williams students often made fun of the ivy leagues and looked down on state and similar (i.e. NESCAC) schools. It reeked of jealousy and bitterness.

I am not, and never have been, particularly proud of being a Williams alum. I hardly mention it. Compared to what I have accomplished since being at Williams, it just doesn’t matter. I don’t understand why middle-aged alums are spending so much time on this blog obsessing about Williams! Get on with your lives people! I think Williams was probably the only place in my life where I felt out of place, insecure, and looked down upon by haughty people. By the attitude and content of the comments in general on this site, I’m not surprised that that was the way I felt at the time. DDF and others wouldn’t be impressed with whatever my AR was – or my family – but I have done quite well – probably better than most white, rich AR1’s – who were most likely the people who made me feel like crap while I was at Williams.

1) Anecdotes are not data, but if you think that Harvard (or Yale/Princeton/Stanford) does not have as many (more?) “cocky, arrogant blowhards” as Williams, then I think you are mistaken. Contrary opinions welcome!

2) What could Williams have done differently — or what could it do in the future — to make you “proud of being a Williams alum?” All readers who don’t feel proud are welcome to chime in!

3) What could Williams have done differently — or what could it do in the future — to make you feel less “out of place, insecure, and looked down upon by haughty people?” Or, perhaps better, how do you recommend we turn the haughty Ephs into better versions of themselves? My answer is First Month. The better you know someone, the less likely to are to look down on them. What do readers suggest?

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Problematic as Fuck

Consider this tweet from the official Williams College account:

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Is Neftaly really “embracing opportunities at Williams?” Consider:

Neftaly: When I visited Williams I visited under a program for minority students and students of color so when I came here I was given a picture of so many different students of color and now that Im here I felt like I was lied to because that’s not what it feels like. The students of color here a lot of times feel like were just here for the pamphlets. It’s even harder given how isolated it is. I can’t just leave campus and go to a museum. I feel the knowledge of being a minority student more prominently here. Its these struggles of realizing that yes, I feel alone or I feel different but at the same time realizing that I want to give credit to the people who care and want o make these struggles not as hard or to validate them at least. I have professors who I can go to and talk about things and they’re like yeah, you’re not crazy. That stuff shouldn’t be happening. Or even other students, just talking through and realizing like at one point last year I was thinking of transferring because I felt so alone and I felt weird because I wanted to go to all these parties in like the old frat houses but id dint feel like I belonged because I wasn’t part of the white football culture. And it’s like wanting to be a part of it but realizing that no matter how I try I will still be different if I go to those places and realizing that I wasn’t the only person on campus who felt that way or seriously thought about transferring really helped a lot. It’s sad that it’s this friendship through struggle or through going through all of these, like, micro aggressions but I think that it’s not like it’s not a reflection of what I’m going to have to go through when I’m outside of Williams anyway. It’s not just here.

Jacqueline: do you think that the average student at Williams recognizes your struggle or are they mostly ignorant to it?

Neftaly: there are groups. You have like 2200 students so you have maybe 30% are students of color but that doesn’t always take into account socioeconomic status because I think that’s also really important so like you have students of color who are very wealthy and interact more with the white wealthy students and those groups tend to be more ignorant about what’s happening or about things like microagressions. But because Williams is so small and so discussion based you usually have students of color in your classes and aren’t afraid to clap back on anything problematic that comes up in class. But at the same time some people just don’t get it and I understand because you can’t truly know something is wrong if you’ve never had to go through it or it’s not something, I don’t blame them for not being able to put themselves in my shoes because they’ve never had to. It’s important that they try and I think a lot of people here try to do it and if they don’t it’s a completely different story but most try and I think that matters.

Jacqueline: When people don’t understand or if they don’t try, how do you react?

Neftaly: My common, rather crude response to those situations when they say like I don’t get it and I’ve done my best to explain somethings to them and I feel like they’re not really making an effort to understand what I’m saying I’m like you can either take a class in Africana or Latinx studies or American studies, or you can pay me for my time to explain this to you. Otherwise, I’m out. If not, I’m not going to partake in this conversation because I don’t have to, and I don’t owe you anything.

Lots of interesting comments! Worth going through more closely?

A lot of the classes that I take are on things like racism and injustices and stuff and its part of realizing that I am a person who is effected by these injustices that I am reading about. I am also going to be on the receiving end. It’s something that recently has been more healthy for me to realize and to and to admit and to engage in rather than putting rather than put aside and hope that I won’t have to deal with it for awhile.

Are those useful messages for Williams professors to be sending to Neftaly?

It’s so bureaucratic. I didn’t realize how bureaucratic colleges were. Or how political they were. I was like wow you’re just trying to make money and here I thought you cared about me. The sanctuary campus movement, we were asking that Williams provide designated sanctuary for undocumented students and they were like we can’t do that because they’re going to come after us and ICE is going come and take our students away and we can’t do anything about it and we were like ok but you’re not promising anything else in return and they were like well talk to our lawyers about it and it seemed like they just didn’t see the urgency of it. Or for students who have parents who are undocumented, we were asking for months now to have a meeting with administration to talk about what kind of help, if any, to students if they happen to have family who is deported. In what ways can the college help us? And they said they didn’t have the funds to help and we were like that’s bullshit. You have a two-point-something billion endowment. You have money. Or they said like there are legal obstacles and it was just a lot of bullshit political excuses.

Reads like an EphBlog rant! Not that there is anything wrong with that . . .

Or all the bull shit when they come to have meetings with the students and we ask them to divest from certain things or to bring in minority therapists or bring in more minority faculty in like the American studies department. These are valid concerns and its always like brushed to the side like “considering our fiscal year budget…” or “considering what our lawyers say…” and were tired of it. I don’t believe them. Because it isn’t genuine. They’re saying something but they mean something else. The students of color here realized very quickly that it’s a very fake sincerity and you learn early on to not trust the school.

Don’t worry Neftaly! Even us old white guys have trouble trusting Adam Falk . . .

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Gargoyle Fundraiser

Consider this solicitation (pdf) from the Gargoyle Society:

On this frigid homecoming day in Williamstown, I write to you as a fellow member of the Gargoyle Society because Gargoyle needs your help.

As you know, the Society has long been known as a positive agent of change at Williams−from the abolition of fraternities, the establishment of the College Council, to the creation of the JA system. More recently, we conducted a comprehensive reassessment of the Williams honor code, reviewed the role of alcohol on campus culture, and championed an increased focus on students’ mental health. In addition, Gargoyle made a key donation that helped ensure the completion of the new Sawyer library and reconstruction of the historic Preston room.

In the wake of decreased direct financial support from the College, however, that important donation has had a larger-than-expected impact on the Society’s limited endowment. As a result, Gargoyle’s efficacy has been limited. That is why we have come to you, notable alums of the Society, to ask for your help. So, please make a donation to the Gargoyle Society−in any amount. You played an important role in the Society’s lauded past, and we need you now to help ensure
its future.

1) If Gargoyle wants to raise money, it needs to be more engaged. For example, there is no way to find out the current members of Gargoyle or what they are working on. Past delegation membership was listed in WSO. Sometime in the last few years, some Gargoyles decided that they wanted to keep their membership secret. That is stupid, and makes money raising much harder. Why would anyone give money to a group with a secret membership? Gargoyle should tell all applicants for the 124th delegation that the membership will be public.

2) Is Gargoyle not subject to the rules associated with student fundraising? Recall the controversy over Uncomfortable Learning soliciting alumni to pay for speakers. From the Student Handbook:

Students who wish to raise money for any campus activity by soliciting alumni, foundations, or other sources of funds must receive advance approval. Students interested in fundraising should contact the Assistant Director for Student Involvement in the Office of Student Life at least two weeks in advance. Most fundraising requires approval from the Dean’s Office, the Provost, and the Vice President for College Relations.

I bet that Gargoyle did not receive approval since, I bet, the College never (?) allows student groups to raise money in this fashion.

3) I am in favor of direct solicitation of alumni. Recall:

WSO hackers like pizza. Three years ago, they (jokingly) solicited PayPal donations for their pizza fund. I bought them $200 worth. This made them happy, since neither College Council nor the Williams Administration is likely to fund their eating habits. It made me happy because I got to contribute something small but tangible to a student group that I like and respect. Every Eph wins.

Why doesn’t this sort of interaction happen more often between students and alumni? Because College bureaucrats trust neither students nor alumni to behave responsibly, at least as far as fund-raising is concerned. The College wants to control the money. It does not trust students to ask for reasonable things. It does not trust alumni to refrain from funding unreasonable requests. It worries that student awkwardness will harm its relationships with alumni donors.

Read the whole thing. If Gargoyle has not yet chosen a project for the year, creating Ephs Choose would be a worthy one.

4) Is it just me or does Gargoyle seem less effective/important recently? Back in the day, each Gargoyle worked on their own projects, sometimes along and sometimes with others. Gargoyle was a platform which engaged students could use to try to improve Williams however they saw fit. It was a useful platform because random administrator X was more likely to engage with you if you came to her as “Ephraim Williams, a member of Gargoyle” instead of “Ephraim Williams, random student.” Weekly meetings were useful because they provided a forum for updates, information sharing and encouragement. You felt bad if you weren’t accomplishing much on your project because you knew that your spot on Gargoyle could have gone to someone who would have worked hard.

Now, however, there is only one Gargoyle project each year. (Perhaps a recent Gargoyle could explain/clarify?) The entire delegation decides in the fall to work on X and then spends the year working on X. This seems a recipe for accomplishing nothing. First, what happens when members disagree about X? In the old days, that was not a problem because you worked on your project and I worked on mine. What happens when a member does not care about X? Why should she work on it? My concern is that Gargoyle has turned into a society which rewards people for what they have already done on campus rather than providing them with impetus for accomplishing more. If that concern has merit, I would predict that people like the editor of the Record and the co-presidents of College Council are more likely to be members now than they used to be. That is a mistake because those Ephs already have a platform to use and more than enough stuff to work on.

My advice: Go back to the old system of individual projects. Select next year’s members based on what they propose to improve at Williams and their likelihood of achieving their goals. Gargoyle membership is not a reward, it is a promise.

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Parable of the Privilege Pill

This comment from “abl” leads to the parable of the Privilege Pill.

Imagine a family with twin daughters, just entering 9th grade. The girls are average, both in the natural abilities and in their academic inclinations. Daughter 1 goes through high school with average grades and average test scores. According to Williams Admissions, she has an Academic Rating of 9. If she applies, she is rejected, as are all AR 9s. Note that Williams is not punishing her for bad performance in high school. The purpose of admissions is neither to punish nor reward. Williams rejects Daughter 1 because AR 9 high school students, on average, do very poorly academically at elite colleges.

Imagine that Daughter 2, on the other hand, takes a magic Privilege Pill on the first day of 9th grade, a pill which dramatically increases her natural abilities and academic inclination for four years. She will receive excellent grades in high school and do very well on the SAT. Williams Admissions will rate her an AR 1 and, probably, admit her if she applies.

Williams would not (and should not) admit Daughter 2 if it new about the Privilege Pill. It only lasts for four years, by construction. After that, Daughter 2 becomes identical to Daughter 1, an AR 9, highly unlikely to perform well in an elite classroom. Admission to Williams is not a reward for strong performance in high school; it is a forecast of academic success in college.

The same reasoning applies to the Anti-Privilege Pill. Imagine a different family with twin daughters blessed with academic talent. Daughter 1 does very well in high school, is rated AR 1 by Williams and (probably) admitted. Daughter 2, unfortunately, takes an Anti-Privilege Pill at the start of high school and does much worse in terms of grades/scores than she would have done if she had not taken the pill.

Williams would (and should) admit Daughter 2 if it knew about the Anti-Privilege Pill. Recall that the pill, by definition, only lasts 4 years. Daughter 2 is, in truth, an AR 1 student whose underlying abilities have been masked in high school. We expect her to do as well at Williams as Daughter 1. Rejection from Williams is not a punishment for poor performance in high school; it is a forecast of academic struggles in college.

Things are different, however, in the case of a Privilege Pill (or Anti-Privilege Pill) which is permanent in its effects rather than temporary.

Consider a car accident in 9th grade which, tragically, leaves Daughter 2 with permanent neurological damage. Through no fault of her own, she will do only average in high school and will be given an AR 9 by Williams admissions. She will be rejected because, on average, high school students with AR 9, regardless of how they came to have an AR 9, do poorly at elite colleges. Even though she would have been an AR 1 (like her twin sister) were it not for the car accident, that sad fact does not influence Williams admissions.

The same reasoning applies to a Privilege Pill whose effect is permanent. If the Pill turns an average 9th grader into an AR 1, then Williams should admit her because she will, we expect, do as well as all the other AR 1s. The source of student ability — genetics, parenting, schooling, luck, wealth, special tutoring, magic pills — does not matter. Admissions to Williams is not a value judgment on the source, or justness, of student achievement in high school; it is a forecast of success in a Williams classroom.

With this framework, we can evaluate abl’s question:

If there are two students alike in every material respect (1450 SATs / 3.8 GPAs at the same school with comparable resumes), and you know that one student achieved her SAT scores after working with a private tutor with a long history of success stories while the other student did not have that opportunity — who would you accept?

The student without the tutor, obviously! In this scenario, the tutored-student has taken a Privilege Pill which, by assumption, is only temporary. She isn’t truly an AR 2. She would have scored 1300 without the tutor. She is really an AR 4 (or whatever). She is likely to do as well as other AR 4s at Williams. So, we should reject her (unless she is an AR 4 that we really want).

I honestly don’t see how any rational, clear-minded person can say that they aren’t going to accept the student who achieved her score on her own. That’s not because we are prejudiced against the student who got help: it’s that we don’t (or, at the very least, we shouldn’t) believe that her 1450 represents the same level of accomplishment and potential as the 1450 of the student who took the test cold.

Exactly how do you propose that Williams admissions determines “the student who achieved her score on her own?” While I am happy to answer your hypothetical question, the sad truth is that Williams has no (reasonable) way of determining which students achieved on their own and which did not. High quality SAT tutoring is available for free at Khan Academy, for example. How could you possibly know if a given applicant “took the test cold?” Answer: You can’t.

There strikes me as being a reasonable debate to be had about how and whether admissions officers should take these sorts of advantages into account in the admissions process. There is no reasonable debate to be had about whether or not privilege plays a role in student achievement as measured by SAT scores and by GPAs.

Perhaps. But the key question becomes: Are the advantages of privilege temporary or permanent? Does the Privilege Pill last through 4 years at Williams? If it does, then we can ignore it. Admissions to Williams is not a value judgment on the source, or justness, of student achievement in high school; it is a forecast of success in a Williams classroom.

Fortunately, this is an empirical question! Define “privilege” however you like, while using data available to Williams Admissions. I would suggest: A privileged applicant is one who attends a high quality high school (top decile?), will not need financial aid at Williams, and comes from a family in which both parents attended an elite college. (Feel free to suggest a different definition.) We can then divide all AR 1 Williams students into two groups: privileged and non-privileged. If you are correct that privileged students benefit from things like high quality SAT tutoring which makes them look temporarily better than they actually are, we would expect the privileged AR 1 students to perform worse at Williams than the non-privileged AR 1s. The same would apply to privileged versus non-privileged AR 2s, AR 3s and so on. Director of Institutional Research Courtney Wade could answer this question in an hour.

But don’t expect that analysis to be made public anytime soon. Courtney, and the people who do institutional research at Williams and places like it, are smart. They have already looked at this question. And the reason that they don’t publish the results is because of the not-very-welcome findings. Privileged AR 1s do at least as well at Williams as non-privileged AR 1s, and so on down the AR scale. The effects of the Privilege Pill are permanent. If anything, the results probably come out the other way because the AR scheme underestimates the benefit of going to a privileged high school like Andover. But let’s ignore that subtlety for now.

Summary: Admissions to Williams is not a value judgment on the source, or justness, of student achievement in high school; it is a forecast of success in a Williams classroom. It does not matter why you are an AR 1 — intelligent parents who value education, luck in your assignment to a charismatic 8th grade teacher, wealth used to pay for special tutoring, genetics, whatever. All that matters is that your status as an AR 1 provides an unbiased forecast of how you will do at Williams. The Parable of the Privilege Pill highlights why the source of academic ability is irrelevant.

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Williams Ties Amherst 31-24

As the official NESCAC page makes clear, Williams and Amherst tied in football today.

nescac

As I noted at the end of the game:

Have two teams ever been so simultaneously disappointed by an outcome? Williams had the game well in hand, but then an Amherst comeback, including a pick-six and Patriot-esque two point conversion, robbed them of the victory. No wins for seven years now.

But Amherst is also hugely disappointed! They should have won and, if they had, they would be NESCAC champions now. The tie means that Trinity won the league.

Does the football team do “The Walk” after a tie?

In a sign of the growing nationwide trend toward participation trophies, the Williams football team did, indeed, walk The Walk.

The Walk, up Spring Street. Go Ephs! #ephnation

A post shared by Eph Alum (@ephalum) on

There seems to be lots of fake news around the internet about this game. Consider:

Williams College first year quarterback Bobby Maimaron’s fourth rushing TD of the game capped the Ephs’ first possession in OT lifted Williams (6-3) over Amherst (7-2) 31-24 in over time in the Ephs’ Homecoing game on Farley-Lamb Field when Amherst failed to match the TD on thier first OT possession.

They don’t call it “The Biggest Little Game in America” for nothing. Saturday’s matchup, played on a chilly Veteran’s Day with seemingly every Williams student in the crowd, proved to be one for the ages. Coming into the game, Amherst was at the top of the NESCAC standings, needing only one more win to become league champions. Williams, meanwhile, was having had a resurgent season, but also reeling from a 35-0 loss to Wesleyan.

Eph experts know that this must be a spoof, both because we have the evidence of the official NESCAC page and because NESCAC football does not use overtime . . .

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E. Williams Armigeri

sealEphraim Williams was a career soldier who died in battle. For most of its 200-year history, the College has had a comfortable relationship with the armed forces. Williams graduates and faculty served in times of peace and war. Even the College’s motto, E Liberalitate E. Williams Armigeri, makes reference to the benefit we have all derived “From the generosity of E. Williams, soldier.”

Over the last 50 years, the connection between Williams and military service has atrophied. Virtually no active member of the faculty has served in uniform. Only a handful of graduates enter the military each year. If one admits that the military plays an important role in society and that having an informed opinion concerning the use of force in international relations is a critical part of being an educated citizen, then the failure of Williams to have a substantive connection to military life and culture is troubling.

ar_1991And, unfortunately, unavoidable. Williams-caliber high school seniors are unlikely to consider serving prior to college. Williams-caliber Ph.D. recipients almost never have a military background. There is little that anyone can do about this state of affairs. But I think that we all have an obligation to be cognizant of it.

The estrangement of Williams from things military first struck me during a mini-controversy in the pages of the Alumni Review. The Summer 1991 issue featured a cover photo of a graduating senior, Jonathan Dailey, being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. Former Professor Mark Taylor, one of the best, and most opinionated, teachers on campus was so incensed by this affront that he felt compelled to write to the editor. His letter, published in the subsequent issue, is worth quoting in full.

I was deeply disturbed by the photograph of three Marines in uniform standing besides the Declaration of Independence in Chapin Library that was on the cover of the most recent Review. Many of us at Williams have struggled throughout the year to raise the critical awareness of our students about the disturbing implications of the glorification of military power in the Gulf War. In my judgment, this photograph sends precisely the wrong message to our students and alumni. taylor_emeritusIt is little more than another example of the reactionary flag-waving mentality that has run wild in the wake of our supposed “victory” in the Gulf. Such an attitude runs directly counter to the ideals of a liberal arts education. I would have hoped that the editor of the Review would have been more thoughtful and more sensitive to the power of images to communicate cultural values.

Taylor is a great proponent and practitioner of deconstruction, of looking for the meaning behind the simple words of a text. Let us deconstruct his letter.

First, it is unclear what, precisely, has made Taylor “deeply distressed.” Is it the very existence of the Marine Corps? Or does Taylor except the need for some sort of military establishment and simply object to the tradition of clothing members of that establishment “in uniform”? Or is it the juxtaposition of these Marines and the Declaration of Independence, which, after all, contains the first claim by these United States to have “full power to levy war”? Or was Taylor distressed that this scene was chosen as the cover shot for the Review? I suspect that it was the last of these which moved Taylor to write. The military, while perhaps necessary, is a distasteful part of modern life. According to Taylor’s “cultural values,” it is worthy of neither celebration nor respect.

Second, note the reference to “students and alumni” as opposed to the more common trio of “students, faculty and alumni.” Obviously, Taylor is not concerned that faculty members will receive the “wrong message.” Presumably, they are smart enough not to be swayed. He worries, however, that the same may not be said for the rest of us.

Third, consider his concern over the “reactionary flag-waving mentality” which “runs directly counter to the ideals of a liberal arts education.” Did 2nd Lt Dailey USMCR and Williams ’91 missed out on some important lectures? Is Taylor suggesting that individuals like he and Dailey, who aspire to the liberal arts ideal, should not wave flags or that they should not do so in a reactionary manner. Perhaps lessons in progressive flag-waving are called for.

The typical comment which a former Marine (like me) should make at this point involves the irony of Taylor’s denigrating the very institution which secures his freedom to denigrate. Or perhaps I should note that Marines like Dailey stand ready to sacrifice themselves for causes, like protecting Bosnian Muslims, which Taylor might find more compelling than combating the invasion of Kuwait. But, in this case, the irony is much more delicious.

parishBefore moving to Columbia, Taylor was the Preston S. Parish ’41 Third Century Professor of Religion. In other words, an alumnus of the College, as his contribution to the Third Century Campaign, endowed a chair which Taylor now holds. And who is Preston S. Parish? Besides being a generous alumnus, he is a former officer in the United States Marine Corps and veteran of World War II. He won a bronze star for leading infantry units from the First Marine Division in combat on Guadalcanal and Peleliu.

For Marines fighting the Japanese in World War II, combat looked like this:

Not much “reactionary flag-waving” going on there . . .

In the beginning of his book Tears, Taylor reminds us of Kierkegaard’s aphorism that it is not the job of an author to make a book easy; on the contrary, it is the job of an author to make a book hard. Reading a good book, like attending a college which aspires to the ideals of the liberal arts, should be difficult. It should challenge us. Taylor was one of the best professors at Williams precisely because of his ability and inclination to challenge his students — question their preconceptions and to encourage them to question his. When my sister-in-law entered Williams in 1994, I told her that the one course that she shouldn’t miss is Religion 101 — or, better yet, 301 — with Mark Taylor. He made things hard.

It is supremely fitting, then, that Williams, via the medium of the Review has challenged — or at least “deeply distressed” — Mark Taylor. It has made him think, however fleetingly, about the worth and purpose of military preparedness in an unfriendly world. A great college, like a great book, should challenge, not just its “students and alumni” but its faculty as well. Ephraim Williams’ generosity, like that of Preston Parish ’41 and Jonathan Dailey ’91, is of money and blood and spirit. They make things hard for all of us.

—–
Originally version published in the Spring 1995 Williams Alumni Review, by David Kane ’88. Modified since then by EphBlog.

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November 8, 2016, November 11, 2017: heart-stoppers !

Heart care in extreme winters prevent heart attack in cold

… Illustration from Reviews and Life Style Tips

Elephant or donkey, mammoth or cow, the animal world had palpitations on these days!

An illustration of Fake News, if I’ve ever seen one:

A 24 -24 tie. In this comment, our own DDF sums it up nicely …

David Dudley Field ’25 says:

Have two teams ever been so simultaneously disappointed by an outcome? Williams had the game well in hand, but then an Amherst comeback, including a pick-six and Patriot-esque two point conversion, robbed them of the victory. No wins for seven years now.

But Amherst is also hugely disappointed! They should have won and, if they had, they would be NESCAC champions now. The tie means that Trinity won the league.*

Does the football team do “The Walk” after a tie?**

* Nota bene: Trinity are the Bantams … while not a current or former Mammal, they are indeed Chordata Aves.

** In a comment under “Yard by Yard”, Ephs! reports “They Walked”

Ephs!

They Walked!

 

The Lying Press should be stopped by LAW!

Your personal experience, chest-wise?

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Semper Fidelis

Today marks the 242nd 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 12 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
Vance McKean ’40
Preston Parish ’41
Albert William Tweedy Jr. ’42
Percy Nelson ’44
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
Brian Gugliatta ’95
John Bozeman ’98
Bunge Cook ’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
Tim Morris ’13
Taylor Beebe ’20
Adam Jones ’20

Hamrick and Morris are currently deployed in harms way. Please contact Stewart Menking ’79 for information on how to reach them. Many thanks to Stew for his work on Adopt-an-Eph over the last 16 years.

LtCol Bunge Cook ’98 is now commands Second Battalion, Fourth Marines, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, the Magnificent Bastards. His call sign is, of course, Bastard 6.

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“Williams Students are so Annoying!”

I chanced upon this complaint just the other day. Curious (and partially offended, as affection for one’s alma mater affects even me), I asked for some elaboration. The friend of mine, who attends another respected liberal arts college and didn’t know I attend Williams, responded:

“They’re arrogant. Whenever their team shows up to multi-school events, they think they can coast by on brand-name and being kinda smart. They’re so exclusive, too!”

or something like that.

I told them I was one of those students. The blush on their face was something to behold! I needn’t fear, they said, I’m not like the average student they had met.

Fair enough. But it got me thinking–do I really disagree with them? They’re not stupid, and the stereotype of the Williams jock had to emerge from somewhere. Personally, I do smell a scent of smugness in the purple bubble. I don’t think it’s a conscious thing. I get along well with the Williams marathoner, the mathematician, the musician, or any commingling of the personalities present. It’s more just a certain narrow-mindedness.  We appreciate how Williams College shapes the world, but we simultaneously neglect how much the world shapes Williams College.

I don’t think this mindset is as pronounced in other liberal arts campuses. That thought is subject to change, however.

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Yard By Yard

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

Saturday, 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 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 on Saturday. If victory comes, it will be sweet indeed since we have lost to Amherst for 6 straight years. A win would also (probably) prevent Amherst from winning NESCAC and give the Ephs a share of the Little Three title. Did Frank Uible ’57 win or lose the games he played against Amherst 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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“Legacy does not matter!” The Court recently held in a 6-3 split.

EPA-USA-SUPREME-COURT-JUSTICES-MEM-170601_12x5_992

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Professor Matt Carter on Best College, 3

Let’s revisit our September discussion over the (infamous) claim that the mission of Williams is to be the best college in the world and that being the best college requires admitting (and enrolling) more of the best students. Professor Matt Carter wrote a letter to the editor in the Record in response. Today is day 3 of my 3-day reply.

In truth, we know that our colleagues in the admission and financial aid offices collectively work hard to admit exceptional students who each bring unique and lasting contributions to our community.

True. And I am eager to educate Carter about the gritty realities of how that work is done. In particular, the SAT plays a major role in who gets admitted to Williams. If Carter doesn’t think that it should, he should complain to Adam Falk and Liz Creighton ’03.

We want students who will excel beyond Williams and have an impact on the world after they graduate, not students whose sole purpose for attending Williams is increasing indices on the U.S. News and World Report rankings.

The naivete here is impressive. Just how does Carter propose to look into the souls of applicants? How will he determine their motivations? How can he tell which applicants have a “sole purpose” connected to US News rankings? Good luck.

All students should know that they deserve to be here, that they are exceptional in ways that standardized test scores can’t measure and that they make Williams an outstanding college because of their presence, not despite it.

Should we also tell students to believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny? 8,500 students applied to Williams last year. You really think that a dozen admissions staff, as wonderful as they may be, had the time to look much beyond Academic Rating? Ha! Do the math! Each officer is looking at around 1,000 applicants! (Academic rating is calculated separately by two people.) There is no time to do much beyond that.

Ultimately, Professor Carter is a scientist so I hope he is ready to consider (and privately confirm with Liz Creighton) some facts. Williams is, right now, considering a few dozen African-American applicants as part of early decision for the class of 2022. Virtually every single one of those applicants with an AR of 4 or above will be admitted, not because there is something “exceptional” in their application which “standardized test scores can’t measure” but because Academic Rating drives Williams admissions, especially within specific categories of applicants. Similarly, not a single applicant with AR 8 or 9, African-American or otherwise, will be admitted.

Williams, today, does not have an admissions system which, to any meaningful extent, looks at items “that standardized test scores can’t measure.” That is a fantasy. Instead, Williams decides, before it sees a single application, that it wants to “admit a class that reflects national populations,” which means somewhere around 100-125 African-American and Hispanic students. It then uses Academic Rating (which is about 50% driven by standardized test scores like the SAT) to determine which African-American and Hispanic students to admit.

I have few problems with Williams people who defend the current system. My issue is with faculty members like Matt Carter who don’t understand how Williams works and then spread their ignorance in the Record.

I can actually understand why some students feel like they snuck through a selective admissions process because I occasionally experience these same feelings myself. These thoughts are common, especially at high-achieving institutions like Williams. The key is to recognize the universality of these feelings, to realize they are unproductive and to ultimately ignore them. We should do the same with Kane’s unthoughtful article.

My position on Williams admissions is the same as it was a decade ago:

Admit that smartest, most academically ambitious, English-fluent students in the world. Some will be poor, some rich. Some black, some white. Some born in India, some in Indiana. Some can play basketball, some can’t. Some will have parents who went to Williams, some will have parents who did not graduate college. None of that matters. Ignore it for admissions purposes. Look at grades, look at scores. Summarize it in the academic rating. Admit and attract the best. Williams should have more internationals, more high ARs (many of them Asian Americans), fewer tips and fewer URMs then it has today. I suspect that the ideal class of a typical Williams faculty member is much closer to my ideal class than it is to the actual student body at Williams. So, I wish that the faculty were much more involved in admissions.

The fewer admissions preferences we give — whether to athletes, URMs or students from poor families — the less common/destructive will be the feeling that a student “snuck” into Williams or does not “deserve” to be here. To the extent those feeling are common, they aren’t my fault. They are the fault of Professor Matt Carter and everyone else at Williams who insists on putting so much emphasis on non-academic factors in admissions.

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Professor Matt Carter on Best College, 2

Let’s revisit our September discussion over the (infamous) claim that the mission of Williams is to be the best college in the world and that being the best college requires admitting (and enrolling) more of the best students. Professor Matt Carter wrote a letter to the editor in the Record in response. Today is day 2 of my 3-day reply.

Therefore, the opinion piece by David Kane ’88, “What Does It Mean to be the Best?” (Sept. 20, 2017), does great disservice to our community by suggesting that some students actually don’t deserve to be here and that they gained admission for illegitimate reasons.

Hmmm. Does the word “deserve” appear in the op-ed? No. Does the word “illegitimate” appear? No. Do any synonyms of “deserve” or “illegitimate” appear? No. Professor Matt Carter is just making things up, claiming that the op-ed includes sentiments that, in fact, it does not.

Is Carter a fool or a liar? Neither! He, if he were to go back and re-read the op-ed, he would probably be honestly surprised to discover that it doesn’t say what he claims it said. For most of the Williams faculty and administration, an accurate description of the admissions process, along with a proposal to modify it, is indistinguishable from an attack on the legitimacy of (some) current students. That is a childish attitude because it makes discussion of policy change impossible.

Recall the 2002 MacDonald Report (pdf) and the 2009 Athletics Committee Report. Both argued that Williams should place less emphasis on athletic ability in admissions. Naive critics would often, like Carter, read these proposals as an attack on the legitimacy of (then) current students. But those faculty authors were not questioning whether any of the (then) current student-athletes “deserved” to Williams, just as I do not question any students today. An Eph is an Eph is an Eph. They (and I) just argue that Williams should change its policies.

Even forgetting the absurd argument that SAT scores should be the main determinant of college admissions, or that the ultimate goal of Williams is “to be the best,” Kane’s article has great potential to reinforce self-doubts and anxieties among some of our students that they snuck through the admissions process.

First, I do not argue that “SAT scores should be the main determinant of college admissions.” Carter creates so many straw men that I fear for fire safety in the Science Quad. Second, SAT (and other standardized test) scores are, along with high school grades, the most important applicant qualities in the Williams admissions process. Don’t like the fact that SAT scores are so important at Williams? Don’t blame me! Blame Adam Falk and Liz Creighton ’03. They could make the SAT (and other achievement test) optional, like Bates. They could go further and not even consider standardized test scores in admission. Falk/Creighton do none of those things because they recognize that SAT scores help Williams to select the best students.

Second, I argue that the goal of Williams is to be the best college in the world. What does Carter think the goal should be? I am honestly curious. Whatever his statement of the College’s mission, doesn’t he agree that we should admit the “best” students we can. (I assume that he does!) We might have a disagreement over how to define/measure “best,” but, until we start focusing on this sort of substance, we won’t make much progress.

Third, I agree that the article has “great potential to reinforce self-doubts and anxieties among some of our students,” just as the MacDonald Report had “great potential to reinforce self-doubts and anxieties among some of our students.” Any time we discuss the performance of students at Williams, we run that risk. Does Carter believe that we shouldn’t? Would he argue that the authors of the MacDonald Report were derelict in their responsibilities to Williams students 15 years ago?

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What is “a gun situation”?

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http://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/Shooter-s-weapon-described-as-AR-15-variant-12334141.php

https://dean.williams.edu/policies/code-of-conduct/

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Professor Matt Carter on Best College, 1

Let’s revisit our September discussion over the (infamous) claim that the mission of Williams is to be the best college in the world and that being the best college requires admitting (and enrolling) more of the best students. Professor Matt Carter wrote a letter to the editor in the Record in response. Today is day 1 of my 3-day reply.

In my brief four years as a faculty member at Williams, I have been struck by the number of students whom, during one-on-one conversations with me, have confided their beliefs that somehow they “snuck into” Williams. “I only got into Williams because I’m an athlete,” some have said. “I only got into Williams because I’m an underrepresented minority.” “I only got into Williams because I’m from an underrepresented part of the country.”

Some of those students are correct. If you are an athletic tip, then you would have not gotten into Williams if you had not been on the coach’s list. Some of these students are misinformed. Although a desire for geographic diversity does exist, it plays a de minimus role in Williams admissions.

Indeed, “I only got in because _____” is more common than individual students think, and I even know of some faculty who feel the same way about their own job offers.

Luck and talent and the often mysterious preferences of opaque institutions play a role in all our lives.

Of course, from my vantage point, each of these students has not only deserved to be at Williams, but has contributed much to my courses, my lab and just about every corner of campus.

Note the subtle shift from getting in “because” of factor X to discussion of who “deserved to be at Williams.” This is sloppy and unhelpful. That athletic ability, as measured by inclusion on a coach’s list of tips, affects admissions in general, and the status of certain applicants specifically, is an statement of empirical fact. You may like it. You may not like it. But your preferences are irrelevant to the truth. Notions of who “deserved” admission are completely different. They are moral judgments. There is no necessary connection between the reality of how admissions works at Williams and the moral argument about how it should work.

For me, and I suspect for Professor Carter, every student at Williams “deserves” to be at Williams (except in extreme cases of, say, the forgery of a high school transcript). Applicants don’t make the rules. They don’t decide the policies of Williams. They submit themselves to our judgment. If they are accepted, then, almost by definition, they “deserve” to be at Williams.

Nevertheless, these feelings persist and can lead to pessimistic views that “my best work will never be as good as the students who actually deserve to be here.” I am so sad when I hear these feelings, especially because they remove a sense of optimism about assignments, exams and meaningful projects in and out of the classroom.

Whose fault is that? Not mine! The vast majority of Williams students with, say, academic ratings of 4 went to high schools with lots of applicants to Williams. They know applicants with much better grades and test scores who were rejected from Williams. For me, they “deserve” to be at Williams as much as any Eph. But, it is hardly crazy for them to wonder at the process, to worry that they will be outmatched academically in Professor Carter’s class, to suspect that their “best work will never be as good as the students” with much higher test scores and high school grades.

The average African-American student in Professor Carter’s classes has an math+verbal SAT score of around 1270. The averaged tipped athlete is at 1350. The average for the class as a whole is 1450. And, for those applicants without a hook involve race/wealth/athletics, it is probably above 1500. If that range causes problems, don’t blame me! Blame Adam Falk and Liz Creighton ’03.

Moreover, whether or not these views are “pessimistic” is another question of empirical fact, one that I urge Professor Carter not to investigate until he receives tenure in another three years. Do AR 4 and below students do as well in Professor Carter’s class as AR 1 students? I bet that they do far, far worse.

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Pell Grant, 5

Whitney Wilson ’90 points out this Washington Post article (and chart) about the rise in the percentage of Pell Grant recipients at elite schools like Williams. For background information on this topic, read this, this and our ten (!) part series from 2014. Let’s spend a week on this topic. Today is Day 5.

The lowest Pell share on the list belonged to Washington and Lee University — 6 percent. Will Dudley, who this year became president of the private Virginia liberal arts school, said the share rose to 11 percent this fall and he wants to lift it further. Dudley said he raised the issue of socioeconomic diversity at Washington and Lee when he was interviewing for the job. Previously, he was provost at Williams College, which had a far higher Pell share in 2015 — 22 percent. “If they didn’t want to make progress, they wouldn’t have hired me,” Dudley said.

Washington and Lee President Will Dudley said the university’s share grew to 11 percent this fall and he wants it to rise further.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” he said. “I don’t want to be a school that is near the bottom of the pack.”

EphBlog loves Will Dudley ’89, but this sort of prattle makes me less unhappy that he won’t be the next president of Williams.

First, admissions are, largely, a zero-sum game. Every high quality low-income student that Dudley brings to Washington and Lee is one less high quality low-income student who goes to school X. Does that really make the world a better place? I have my doubts.

Second, Washington and Lee is #10 on US News. Not bad, of course, but nowhere near the first tier, mainly because the quality of the student body is so much worse than at places like Williams/Amherst/Swarthmore.

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A better president would devote his energy toward improving the overall quality of the student body (which is not an easy thing to do!) rather than parading his virtue to the readers of the Washington Post.

Third, if I were a Washington and Lee trustee, I would challenge Dudley about his focus on Pell Grants as a meaningful measure of socio-economic diversity. It is not a bad measure, but, as we have discussed all week, it is not a particularly good measure because a) it changes over time via Congressional whim and b) it is too dependent on one specific point in the income distribution. If all Dudley has done in the last year is to replace a bunch of applicants from families who make $70,000 with other applicants whose families make $50,000 — and who would have been rejected in the past because their credentials were worse — because the latter are Pell-eligible), then he has accomplished very little, and certainly has no business bragging about it to the Post.

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Veterans in the Academy: POSSE Veterans of the Global War. Ephblog favorite Alum and Vassar President Cappy Hill has action, not words.

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Reed College Students … Agree? Disagree?

Reed Humanities students reject Steve Martin’s 1978 SNL ‘King Tut’. The background has been well-discussed here on Ephblog as it pertains to Williams.

I was 44 in 1978. Some readers may not have been quite toilet-trained. I found it funny both then and now. Of course, I was an Art History major (class of ’56) and used to white privilege being presented in ‘broadest aspect’

 I am interested in current readers opinions. Look through the story below to get the gist.

Agree?  Disagree?

 https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/11/the-surprising-revolt-at-reed/544682/?utm_source=nl-politics-daily-110217&silverid=MzEwMTkwMTE0NDAxS0

NB  SNL’s first broadcast October 11, 1975 from Studio 8H at 30 Rock.

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