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Go Michigan!

imageFrom Sports Illustrated:

There was this thing that Duncan Robinson would do, four years ago, when he was a 19-year-old freshman basketball player at Williams College, a tiny, elite Division III liberal arts school, with a student population of just over 2,000, in the Berkshire Mountains of rural, northwestern Massachusetts. Williams freshmen, like D-III freshmen everywhere, are asked to help with menial support duties, and before away games, Robinson took it upon himself to carry trainer Lisa Wilk’s heavy bag of supplies from the bus to the locker room, along with his own bag. After games, he would carry it back to the bus. It was a heavy bag, about 50 pounds of tape and wrap and other supplies. Sometimes Robinson would fight off fellow freshman Dan Aronowitz to carry the bag. This muling was a small act, but something that everyone at Williams seems to recall as quintessential Robinson. When he decided to leave Williams after his one season, some of his friends made a funny, “Please Stay, Duncan” video in which they put little water droplets on Wilk’s face to make it appear as if she was weeping.

This weekend Robinson, a 6’8″ senior forward, will play for Michigan in the Final Four, first against Loyola-Chicago on Saturday evening and then, potentially, in the national championship game on Monday night. The Final Four, past and present, is a cascade of remarkable stories. Michigan’s next opponent, for one, is this year’s Cinderella. Robinson’s personal tale is well-known enough that announcers can dispense with it in four words: The Division III transfer.

But it’s more than that. Robinson is a unicorn: A player who transferred from D-III, not just to D-I, but to the highest level of D-I, a contending program in a power five conference, and with a full scholarship in hand from the beginning. He then became a starter in his first year of eligibility and has scored more than 1,000 points. When he steps on the court Saturday, he will become a subset of one—the first player to participate in both the Division I and Division III basketball Final Fours. (And he won’t just participate; he will be the first Michigan player off the bench, averaging more than 25 minutes and almost nine points a game in the tournament.)

Read the whole thing.

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Our Liberal Campus

From the Record in November 2015:

Over the past couple weeks, we have seen numerous articles about politics on campus, especially concerning Uncomfortable Learning. Ironically, though, other than from sources external to the College, there seem to have been few opinion pieces from conservative students. I would like to respond to previous opinions while also looking at some data.

It seems that a point mentioned in an opinion piece for the Williams Alternative, but glossed over as just matter-of-fact, is much more important than it appears. I am referring to how politically-concentrated the faculties and administrations are at most colleges. There exists a substantial amount of literature regarding this bias, but it is not something to just write off – these people determine most of the curriculum and rules for their respective colleges. Therefore, I decided to investigate how political donations break down among recent faculty and administration hires here at the College to get an idea of the diversity.

One can find public information on donations through the website of the Federal Election Commission (FEC). I used the FEC’s “Advanced Transaction Query by Individual Contributor” for political committees, including joint fundraising committees, to search for employees of the College.

After checking whether the employee was a professor, lecturer, instructor or administrator (rather than a student or member of the staff), it appears that of 111 considered political donations since 2007, 108, or 97.3 percent, went to Democratic and liberal organizations. Of 41 contributors, 40, or 97.6 percent, gave to liberal groups. By dollar amount, this is $39,210 out of $39,960 in total, or about 98.1 percent. These numbers don’t exactly scream any sort of political diversity.

Indeed. But even more worrying (to me) is how conservative students are treated. From the same op-ed by Matt Quinn ’17:

’d like to finish by sharing something that I observed at Williams for Life’s recent display on Planned Parenthood. Staff and faculty who saw the display were glad to see students discussing politics. Yet, as I mentioned, quite a few students reacted by questioning our sanity, throwing temper tantrums as they walked by and so on. There were still students who engaged with us, but the only sizable group that did so were not current students, but prospective students. Students from Windows on Williams were more than eager to respectfully talk about the contentious issues at hand. It’s unfortunate that the reaction among many current students is the exact opposite.

Indeed. Are pro-life views treated fairly at Williams?

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Borrowed Time

From CBS News:

When Julie Yip-Williams [’97] found out she was dying of cancer, she wasn’t completely surprised.

“I’ve always felt like I was living on borrowed time,” she said.

“Why do you think that is?” asked Smith.

“Look at my life, this crazy life.”

She’s been thinking a lot about “this crazy life” lately — how it began, and how it will end.

It started 42 years ago in post-war Vietnam. Julie was born totally blind. Immediately, her grandmother intervened. “She set up a meeting between my parents and this herbalist, and had my mother and father take me to this man,” she said.

And her grandma’s intention was what? “To have me killed,” she said, “because I was blind.”

“And she just thought there was absolutely no future in that?”

“There was no future for me, nobody would ever want to marry me, I was an embarrassment to the family,” Julie said.

But instead, her life was spared. “The herbalist said, ‘I won’t participate in this kind of dirty business.’ And he walked away.”

She was three when her family fled Vietnam for the United States. They made it to California, where she says an eye surgeon changed her life. “Here’s my mother who doesn’t speak any English, okay? And she gets me to this young pediatric ophthalmologist who has never seen a case like mine before. And he tells her, ‘I don’t know how much vision I can give her, but we can try.'”

What he gave her was enough, though she is still legally blind. “I cannot drive, I can’t play tennis. Like, my dream is to play tennis!”

Read the whole thing. Julie’s blog is here. Example entry:

Dear Josh [her husband],

Sometimes, I can feel the weight of your stare as I feign sleep in those torturous minutes before I fully wake. Your grip on my hand has tightened; that’s what probably woke me in the first instance. I can feel your love. I can feel you trying desperately to save the image of my face in some special place within your soul that might be immune to the amnesiac effects of time. I can feel your fear as you unwillingly envisage a life without me – how will you comfort the girls like I can; how will plan the birthday parties and arrange the girls’ schedules; how will you fix all the things that break in our home; how will you do all this while still working your demanding job and maintaining the stellar course of your career? In turn, in my own mind’s eye, I can see you cleaning out our closets and bathroom drawers to dispose of all my things. I can see you bringing flowers to my gravesite. I can see you watching what were once “our” favorite TV shows after the girls have gone to bed, in the dark, alone, the television casting its eerie blue light on your face that seems to be permanently sculpted in sadness.

Heart-breaking stuff.

Julie died last week.

Condolences to all.

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Report on Building

Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 11.24.57 AM

The March 2018 Report on Building (pdf) is an amazing document. Kudos to Provost Dukes Love and his staff (especially friend-of-EphBlog Chris Winters ’95) for putting this together and for making it public!

There are a dozen days or more of material here. Should I go through it in detail?

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@ Report on Building: a sidebar … how not to build with character …

 

postmodernism-resurgence-roundup-ten-buildings-architecture_dezeen_2364_col_14-1704x1136

Granted! I am not walking the campus every day/year… in fact, it is every five years. So this is an interjection from an old fart on examples of what not to design in a building that has appropriated detail. I bring this up because of the challenges to do more than build a bland box that meets LEEDS certification.

Also granted, the examples probably weren’t designed to meet the standards. The only reference on campus from my casual knowledge are the “Ironic Columns”. I quote the examples to burn into your eyeballs, examples of Post-Modern gone mad.

https://www.dezeen.com/2018/01/23/10-buildings-that-represent-new-age-postmodernism-roundups-architecture/

 

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Welcome to the New Chaplain

EphBlog welcomes the College’s new chaplain, The Rev. Valerie Bailey Fischer. From an internal e-mail:

Valerie grew up in West Philadelphia in an African American Pentecostal tradition, participating in several other Protestant traditions before joining the Episcopal Church as a young adult. She went on to become University Chaplain at Framingham State University, where she helped students from a variety of religious and moral/philosophical traditions form and strengthen their communities. She galvanized the student-led development of interfaith programming to encourage learning across traditions and deeply enjoyed assisting students in planning creative rituals and liturgies that deepened their spiritual engagement.

Valerie grew up in West Philadelphia in an African American Pentecostal tradition, participating in several other Protestant traditions before joining the Episcopal Church as a young adult. She went on to become University Chaplain at Framingham State University, where she helped students from a variety of religious and moral/philosophical traditions form and strengthen their communities. She galvanized the student-led development of interfaith programming to encourage learning across traditions and deeply enjoyed assisting students in planning creative rituals and liturgies that deepened their spiritual engagement.

Former colleagues and students, in addition to describing Valerie as a gracious, authentic bridge-builder with a wonderful sense of humor, were quick to point to her ministry’s strong foundation in social justice. One example is Urban Pilgrimage, the unique experiential learning program she developed at Framingham State.

Valerie attended Penn State University, Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and Boston University’s School of Theology, and is now completing her dissertation in Anglican Studies and U.S. Episcopal Church History at General Theological Seminary. Her research examines the ancient order of female deacons from the early church, its late-nineteenth century revival, and its role in the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Filling Rick Spaulding’s shoes will not be easy. Best wishes to Rev. Fischer.

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New Chaplain

UPDATE: This post as been updated to separate out two issues: A welcome to Rev. Fischer (see new post above) and a comment on the likely priorities of the search committee which selected her (something which Fischer, obviously, has no control over and bears no responsibility for).

From a faculty friend:

From: Steve Klass
Date: Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 2:25 PM
Subject: New Chaplain to the College Announcement
To: WILLIAMS-PERSONNEL@listserv.williams.edu

Dear Members of the Williams Community,

I am excited to announce the appointment of The Rev. Valerie Bailey Fischer as Williams’ next Chaplain to the College. Valerie currently serves as priest associate at Calvary Episcopal Church in Summit, New Jersey and brings more than eleven years of college chaplaincy experience and nearly a decade in ordained ministry.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this search for making Valerie and all our finalists feel welcome. I especially want to express my admiration and gratitude to Dean Marlene Sandstrom and the search committee (listed below), who spent untold hours guiding the process to this happy outcome.

Valerie will officially begin her new role at Williams in late July. I hope you will join me and our committee in warmly welcoming her to Williams!

Sincerely,
Steve Klass
Vice President for Campus Life

Search Committee:
· Philemon Abel ‘19
· Isabel Andrade ‘18
· Meg Bossong, Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response
· Coly Elhai ‘19
· Aaron Gordon, staff to committee, Administrative Director of Divisional Affairs, VP for Campus Life Office
· Jacqueline Hidalgo, Associate Professor of Latina/o Studies and Religion
· Rhon Manigault-Bryant, Associate Dean of the Faculty, Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Faculty Affiliate in Religion
· Summiya Najam ‘19
· Tapiwanashe Nhundu, Employment Manager, HR
· Shawna Patterson-Stephens, Director of the Davis Center
· Michael Rubel ‘19
· Marlene Sandstrom, Chair, Dean of the College, Hales Professor of Psychology

With that search committee, I am shocked — SHOCKED! — that they selected an African-American. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

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You Can’t Fight Williams College

hoxsey street

From The Berkshire Eagle:

Williams College plan to demolish former home of Dagmar Bubriski leaves some ‘shocked, outraged’

“She would have been horrified it ended this way.”

That’s how Charles Bonenti described how the late Dagmar Bubriski, his former colleague on the Williamstown Historical Commission, would react if she knew her 19th-century home at 42 Hoxsey St. may well be torn down at the behest of its present owner, Williams College — the very entity she had refused to sell the home to during her lifetime.

Dagmar’s daughter, Wanda Bubriski, said she knows the college’s interest in buying the property had gone on for more than 50 years.

But Wanda didn’t expect the college would tear it down — even though her mother did.

“That’s why she stayed in the house,” Wanda said. “Because she knew if she moved, [the college] would demolish it.”

Dagmar and her husband Stanley moved into the home in 1954.

After Stanley died in 1965, Dagmar raised four children in the home.

An informed crusader on civic issues, Dagmar was also a perennial face in the audience at selectmen’s meetings and a frequent letter-writer to the North Adams Transcript regarding a wide range of Williamstown issues.

An advocate for historic preservation, Dagmar helped lead ultimately unsuccessful fights to preserve the Williamstown Opera House and various other properties owned by Williams College, according to her obituary in The Eagle.

EphBlog, sadly, only wrote about Dagmar once. Shame on us! The Record wrote this wonderful story in 2002.

Dagmar died in 2011.

Hemmed in by the college’s Bronfman Science Center following the center’s initial construction in the 1960s, Dagmar’s own home motivated her historic preservation efforts.

The taller, 90,000-square-foot brick science center is set to be demolished this year to make room for an updated science complex. It looms over the yellow Victorian that Dagmar called home.

“This is just one more step in the institutionalization of the village center,” said Bonenti.

Indeed. The College has always been the most important institution in Williamstown, but its power, relative to town residents, seems to grow stronger each year.

The college’s expansion also undermines the town’s architectural diversity, he said.

Buildings that were homes like Dagmar’s are being overshadowed by the college’s new buildings — largely “institutional, bland, generic boxes,” he said.

“Williamstown has become a series of construction sites for massive building,” said Peter Bubriski, one of Wanda’s three brothers, of the college’s expansion efforts. “And I won’t even go into the really sad state of their architectural choices.”

For years, Hoxsey Street was a residential neighborhood filled with family homes like the one Peter grew up in, he recalled.

Now, it’s been taken over for the college’s needs, he said.

Besides the Bubriskis’ former home, the college owns five other buildings on Hoxsey Street — two faculty-staff rentals, two student residences and one building that houses academic offices that will be converted into another faculty-staff rental, said Jim Kolesar, assistant to the president for community and government affairs at Williams College.

Presumably, Kolesar (rather than Jim Reische) got involved in this article because he had been sparing with Dagmar for years.

I have no problem with the College owning lots of buildings. Indeed, I think we need more home-like structures so that we can dramatically increase the number of co-ops. But it is absurd how many rentals the College maintains for staff and faculty. What a waste of resources! The College needs to house students. It does not need to house faculty/staff.

The college also owns and maintains more than 75 buildings in town that are at least 100 years old, Kolesar said.

“The college has torn down a number of structures,” said Andrew Groff, community development director for Williamstown. “But I would not characterize them as being a poor steward” of historic buildings. The college has invested in historic rehabilitation of buildings, he said.

When Wanda sold the house to Williams College in 2017, the college told her it would be used for office space during construction and later for faculty housing, she said.

“I thought, ‘Oh, great!'” she said. “”That is just wonderful.'”

She said she now believes the college was simply telling her that so she would sell.

D’uh! Of course the College was telling her whatever she wanted to hear.

But, that said, Wanda could have driven a harder bargain, could have inserted a provision that the College could not tear down the house for 100 years. She choose not to do that, probably because it would have lowered the price she and her brothers received.

I wonder if Dagmar thought about including a relevant stipulation in her will . . .

Kolesar said the college intended to use the house for those purposes.

“The college looked forward to having that as a faculty-staff rental,” he said. “[But] it really had to be vacated.”

After efforts to move the home failed to pan out earlier this year, the college now plans to demolish the building.

In a letter sent March 12, Wanda, her brothers and about 97 other people signed a letter to the president and trustees of Williams College and the Williamstown Historical Commission urging the college to reconsider its decision to tear the building down.

“We are shocked, outraged and saddened to hear of the decision of Williams College to tear down the house at 42 Hoxsey Street,” the letter states. “It was the home of Dagmar Bubriski, a community leader, columnist, a radio host and a widow at 37 who raised a family of four while being the loudest cheerleader and staunchest defender of Williamstown historic and cultural preservation. This history deserves to be preserved.”

Does the College archive the letters it receives? I hope so. Better yet would be to scan them and make them (or most of them) public.

On April 12, the town’s Historical Commission will take up the matter. The commission has the power to delay the demolition for up to a year. If the commission chooses not to delay, the demolition could go forward right away.

Removing the building will facilitate the construction of a new science center building — a core educational priority for the college, according to a Jan. 31 letter from the college’s lawyer to William Barkin, chairman of the Williamstown Historical Commission. Removal will also allow the college to enhance the landscape along Hoxsey Street with more plantings and a geologic rain garden.

It will also enable the college to improve underground utility and stormwater management and relocate a small parking lot to a location that will be more sensitive to the college’s neighbors, according to the letter.

“These decisions have to be made all the time,” Kolesar said in an email. “Once all those [considerations] were weighed, the decision was, it needs to be removed.”

Over the last four years, the college has moved two houses and a barn, facilitated the moving of a third house and has taken down four, Kolesar said.

The college listed the property as available throughout January and February, seeking parties interested in moving the building off the current lot, Kolesar said.

The building was free, with the interested party taking on the cost of moving the home.

The offer expired Feb. 28.

The college received about 17 expressions of interest, Kolesar said.

He recalled there was an entity that was “very serious” about the project, but ultimately backed out.

“In the end, they felt that they couldn’t pull it off,” he said.

Perhaps they could put up a plaque to commemorate Dagmar and her defense of town against gown over the years?

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Welcome to the Class of 2022

College news release:

Williams College has extended offers of admission to 1,163 applicants for the Class of 2022. They were selected from a total applicant pool of 9,559.

Welcome to all our new Ephs. The release includes lots of data. I went through last year’s version in detail. Worth another visit?

A total of 505 identify as men, 578 as women, seven identify as trans or transgender, two as non-binary, one as two spirit, one as genderqueer, and one as another identity. Sixty-eight did not respond to an optional question about gender identity (but did answer a required binary question that appears on the application).

If you had asked me 15 years ago whether or not concepts like “spirit” or “genderqueer” would ever appear in a Williams news release, I would have forecast (incorrectly!) No. What words/concepts will appear in 2033 that will be a big surprise to future me?

By the way, the class of 2022 is the 20th (!) Williams class that has had the opportunity to interact with EphBlog. (We first appeared for the senior spring of the class of 2003.) What is the over/under on how much longer we will last?

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A Sunday Break: Celebrity Politicians …

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 12.24.49 PM Arne Carlson ’57                                                     Jesse Ventura

This feature on the BBC caught my eye … Cynthia Nixon of Sex and the City running against Andrew Cuomo for Governor of New York, I  know, I know. How do celebrities get into public office. Is it their good looks, screen charm, reputations? A quote from the article:

“The facts show that people like Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump have had great success in politics,” says Dr Sharon Coen, senior lecturer in media psychology at the University of Salford.

“If they are already in the public eye, they are already present on people’s radar – we feel like we’re friends with them, or a version of them.

“This increases the feelings of likeability, familiarity and trust – which are all key factors that are determinant in the success of a political candidate.”

From California have come three, Senator George Murphy, and Governors Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. It seems to be a California tradition.

But it may be of Sunday Williams interest that Minnesota’s popular (at least with me) Arne Carlson Class of ’57 was succeeded after two four-year terms by professional wrestler Jesse Ventura. As a pro-wrestling bad guy, his motto was “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat!”. Ventura decided to serve only one term. Arne has some interesting observations  for a Republican.

 

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Williams(town) is a mess!

This article in the Berkshire Eagle (normally a cheerleader for “all things Eph”) captures the frustrations of living in a town that has been under constant construction since the 90s.

 

hoxsey street

 

 

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@ PTC above: The Village Beautiful … Does it still fit?

1454819064   1454819567

 

 

 

 

The Science Center on Hoxsey Street     Mrs Dagmar Bubriski (2016 photo)

Photos : The Berkshire Eagle

… or hasn’t this appellation been used for a number of years? Scale, so important to environment, seems to have been lost. I was always impressed that earlier additions kept the village skyline and village plan intact. Sense of place had continuity.

The mission of the college has certainly changed and with it the structures necessary to serve the goal. I know that coming students will view the new environment as ‘their place’. Nevertheless, it seems to me that visual clues to Williams historical legacy are being lost in a desire to no longer be a village.

The 2016 story and arguments in The Berkshire Eagle

 

 

 

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The Class of ’68 and a view of the values of the March today …

The Class of ’68 in preparation for their 50th reunion this spring has set up an interactive blog to offer classmates the opportunity to exchange views, greetings, exhortations and whatever else new members of the old guard choose to do.

Here is a post on “Never Again” written by ’68 classmember W. Franklin Reed, an attorney in Pittsburgh.

From his post …

We may again be witnessing another unique moment in history when the “followers” become the leaders and the “leaders” become the followers. DZDJewaWAAALPjpBy failing to take seriously the protests of the “Never Again” movement reacting to the Parkland high school massacre (effective gun control) and women in the “Me Too” movement (sexual harassment and equal rights), the Trump administration and their allies are making the same mistake that the “establishment” figures of the 60’s did and, like them, may have some catching up to do. Indeed, they, and the National Rifle Association in particular, have been fatallymisconstruing what rights are actually protected by the Second Amendment (that was a pun, in case you missed it).

 

For those who were thinking about today’s marches, an addition for a perspective on voting eligibles by generation name:

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 7.41.28 PM

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Ambulance Update

From The Berkshire Eagle:

With necessity being the mother of invention, the regionalization of emergency responder agencies has begun in the Northern Berkshires.

Heading into the third month of the merger of Village Ambulance in Williamstown with the North Adams Ambulance Service, officials say the task of melding procedures and communications continues apace.

Village Ambulance is about the only non-profit which merits direct contributions from Williams, mainly because its services are so commonly used by students. So, I don’t mind some College involvement. I also don’t know enough about the local politics to understand the reasons behind the merger and the winners/losers associated therewith.

I always worry, however, that the local power brokers —- Williamstown town manager Jason Hoch ’95, North Adams mayor Thomas Bernard ’92 — are very smart and that they recognize two fundamental truths: Williams College has endless money and the people who run Williams are (over) eager to use (too much of) that money to improve their own lives. So, what should Hoch/Bernard do? Get the College to contribute much more to the ambulance service, especially for aspects (like coverage outside of Williamstown) that it did not contribute much to before. And what do we see?

The cost of the rebranding, as well as others costs incurred by the merger, is being covered by a contribution from Williams College and Williamstown of up to $200,000. Meanwhile, the service responded to 892 calls In January. The average for North Adams Ambulance has been about 500 in a month. At the time of the merger, Village Ambulance was averaging around 333 per month.In January, the first month of the merger, the newly combined ambulance service responded to 892 calls.

$200,000 is way too much! And I bet this is in addition to the money that Williams usually contributes.

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North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard ’92

We failed to cover this news last fall.

Thomas Bernard will be the city’s next mayor.

The political newcomer handily defeated Robert Moulton Jr., by an unofficial tally of 2,404 votes to 1,023 votes, winning all five of the city’s voting wards by 200 votes or more.

“I am humbled and grateful that we can celebrate with friends and toast to North Adams and we’re going to wake up tomorrow ready to roll up our sleeves and work,” Bernard told his supporters at the Richmond Grille Tuesday night.

The new mayor will take the helm on New Year’s Day and serve a two-year term.

Bernard, director of special projects at Smith College, was born and raised in North Adams, graduating from Drury High School and then Williams College. He later returned to the city to work at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, then worked at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Bernard, who heavily outraised and outspent Moulton’s campaign, touted a message of economic development based on improved education and city infrastructure in the months leading up to the election.

“I want to be a mayor for everyone in North Adams, and want to hear and work to address people’s concerns as well as to encourage their aspirations,” Bernard stated.

The College (probably?) benefits from having alumni in local positions of power: Bernard ’92 as mayor of North Adams, Jason Hoch ’95 as Williamstown town manager, and maybe even Michael Wynn ’93, Pittsfield chief of police.

Any local readers have opinions on Bernard/Hoch/Wynn?

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Committee on Priorities and Resources Open Forum

From: Eiko Maruko Siniawer
Date: Wed, Mar 14, 2018 at 9:14 AM
Subject: Open Forum on College Priorities
To: WILLIAMS-FACULTY@listserv.williams.edu

Dear colleagues,

The Committee on Priorities and Resources (CPR) invites you to attend an Open Forum for faculty, staff, and students on Thursday, April 5, at 4:00 pm in Griffin 6. We’d like to have an open discussion of the college’s priorities, so we hope that you’ll come with your thoughts about how the college has been, and should be, allocating our resources. What should be the college’s most important commitments? What is most central to the mission of the college, and how does our spending align with our priorities?

There will be introductory remarks by Dukes Love and Fred Puddester. But the forum will be dedicated to your ideas and questions about anything from financial aid to building on campus. The members of CPR hope that you can attend the forum and be part of this conversation.

We look forward to seeing you on the 5th,

Pei-Wen Chen, Biology
Todd Hoffman, Budget Director
Steve Klass, VP for Campus Life
Dukes Love, Provost
Megan Morey, VP for College Relations
Fred Puddester, VP for Finance and Administration
Michael Rubel ’19
Matt Sheehy, Associate VP for Finance
Jim Shepard, English
Allegra Simon ’18
Eiko Maruko Siniawer, History, Chair of CPR
Tara Watson, Economics and Public Health
Chris Winters, Associate Provost
Weitao Zhu ’18

1) I am still sad that Eiko was not picked as the next Williams president. She would have been great! Anyone have gossip as to whether or not she (or Lee Park) was among the finalists in the search?

2) My sense is that the CPR is one of the more powerful committees on campus. Insider commentary welcome.

3) My guess is that such a forum will generate a fair amount of bleating about too-low faculty salaries/benefits. Or am I being unfair?

4) The college spends way too little money on improving the quality of our students, especially black/Hispanic/poor admittees that choose Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford over us. My questions to CPR would be:

a) Why don’t we match the financial aid offers from HYPS, at least for highly desirable URM/low-income applicants? My sense is that we often expect “middle class” students to pay tens of thousands of dollars more then they have too pay at HYPS. Is that true? How much would it cost to fix?

b) Why don’t we increase the funds devoted to Tyng Scholarships and focus those awards more on the most desirable applicants, especially African-Americans?

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Nike Camp with Enrichment Classes

One of the great benefits of tenure is that Professor Phoebe Cohen can now tell us what she really thinks . . .

“Nike Camp with enrichment classes” is a quote from Professor Shanks.

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Diversity Circus: A Self-Perpetuating Administrative Pathology

An anonymous Williams professor explains faculty hiring:

The Dean of the Faculty and the CAP oversee hiring at every stage. When a department wants a new line they have to apply to the CAP, explaining why it necessary to have a Professor of Widgetry, why other professors in the department can’t teach widgetry, and how having a specialist in widgetry will dovetail with offerings in other departments.

The CAP then approves or denies the line. This is necessary because departments only see their own needs and priorities; CAP and the DoF have (in theory anyway) a view of staffing needs across departments. They may also have a specific vision of where the college should be moving. All of this is–again in theory–a Good Thing.

After you get the line, the department must seek approval for every subsequent stage of the search. The job ad has to be approved. Shortlists have to be approved. Finalists are all interviewed by the CAP, and ultimately the CAP has to approve hires. (So do the Trustees, as already noted in this thread.) These safeguards are in place to preserve and enforce academic standards. They are how the administration ensures that departments actually hire for the position they received permission to hire in. Because all new hirees must have their tenure decisions approved by the CAP, it also makes sense to have this same committee approve their initial job offer.

The problem is that enforcing academic standards isn’t really the flavor of the month anymore. The Dean of the Faculty and the CAP flex their muscles primarily on behalf of diversity. Academic standards seem, increasingly, to be matters of secondary concern. The diversity pressure is applied at all stages of the process and really seems to corrupt it. You might not get approval for your professorship of widgetry unless you redefine the position with some political or diversity edge. You need to hire a Professor of Subaltern Widgetry, the unspoken hope being that this kind of line will ultimately result in a minority hire. Affirmative action forms go to the associate dean for institutional diversity. At every stage of shortlisting, this person has to be consulted to ensure that minority candidates aren’t disproportionately eliminated due to implicit bias. This is despite the fact that in most cases the hiring department has no clarity on the race of specific applicants. As for the CAP interactions with finalists, my impression has been that their academic standards are well below that of the hiring department. Again diversity looms as the major concern.

A few observations: The faculty-facing admins must struggle to judge the quality of any individual candidate. Only the hiring department has that kind of expertise. The hall monitors have a particular proclivity for diversity mongering because that kind of thing *is* eminently legible to the CAP and the DoF. The diversity circus thus becomes a self-perpetuating administrative pathology.

Weird things happen when you make faculty demographics a leading priority. You can’t actually advertise for minority candidates, so positions have to be redefined such that they are more likely (in the eyes of administrators) to yield a critical mass of minority applicants. You might have had 100 candidates in your search for a Professor of Widgetry. Now that you’ve clarified you want a Professor of Subaltern Widgetry you might only have a few dozen candidates. Other schools are playing the same game, so any minority finalists will very probably turn out to be heavily recruited, with multiple offers from other institutions. In these cases we’re not redressing any past injustices, as the minority candidates would’ve clearly entered the academy regardless of our search. When you do finally hire the professor of subaltern widgetry, it will turn out that most of their curricular offerings and scholarship are a critique of the broader field of widgetry. But you don’t have any ordinary professor of Widgetry, remember, so the meaning and relevance of this critique for students will always be an issue.

This agrees with everything I have heard, both about Williams and about elite schools in general. Any dissenting views?

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A Sunday Break: Travel Oregon …

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Watch the ad!

 

(OK, OK, I live in Oregon) …

Never-the-less, the anime ad in an exaggerated style is very well-done by Portland advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy. You have probably seen their ads for Nike for years. They have an impressive list of clients who want memorable creative.

https://www.bizjournals.com/portland/news/2018/03/13/travel-oregon-slightly-exaggerates-the-state-in-a.html

The locations being exaggerated are actual locations, just hyper. The single-track biking trail and  most of the scenery are typical of our area. Tourism has helped build Oregon and is supported heavily by the State budget.

Our Columbia River Gorge area is the only National Scenic Area in the US. Sports tourism including wind and water sports, kayaking, skiing, biking, sailing, mountain climbing and their extreme counterparts saved Hood River in the 1980s from becoming a stagnant orchard-and-timber town. Tourism has also resulted in a major increase in population as tourists become residents and bring business with them. A good local example in the Gorge is In Situ across the river, now owned  by Boeing.

Gone are the days when Governor Tom McCall said famously referring to Oregon’s tourist industry in a 1971 speech,  “I urge them to come and come many, many times to enjoy the beauty of Oregon. But I also ask them, for heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live.”

 

 

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KC Johnson on Safety Dance

Former Williams professor KC Johnson, co-author (with Stuart Taylor) of The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America’s Universities, sent in this analysis (doc) of the latest filings in the Safety Dance sexual assault case:

There have been some new filings in the Title IX/due process lawsuit against Williams. I’ve summarized the case previously, so won’t repeat what I wrote. Unique among the 200 or so lawsuits filed by accused male students, Williams features an accuser who also was a college employee. And at several points in the process, Williams administrators appeared to favor their employee over their student—in a manner that likely would have generated outrage if the genders had been reversed.

The new filings deal with attempts by the accused student’s lawyer to depose President Falk and two members of the college disciplinary panel that voted to expel her client. The judge previously had limited the number of depositions to ten per side.

There are, however, two items of potential interest included in the filings.

The first: as part of the discovery process, the accused student has obtained the training material that Williams uses for its Title IX adjudicators. (Since 2011, the federal government has required colleges to train adjudicators in sexual assault cases—and only sexual assault cases.) To the best of my knowledge, no college or university has voluntarily publicized its training material; my co-author Stuart Taylor and I obtained around a dozen schools’ training materials and analyzed their overwhelmingly one-sided nature. For a comparison to the criminal justice system: imagine if, in rape and sexual assault trials and only in those trials, the prosecutor could require jurors to spend 3-5 hours reading general material on the topic that the prosecutor herself selected—and then could deny the defense attorney any chance to see the material at any point in the process.

Williams’ training material is less unfair than that of some other institutions (for a particularly egregious example, see pages 20-21 of this decision against Penn, which eventually led the college to settle the case). Williams, typically, has filled its training with frightening statistics that say nothing about the specifics of the case the panel is supposed to judge. (One slide, for instance, claims—without citation—that 21% of college students experience dating violence from their current partner.) More problematically, the training (which is supposed to be gender-neutral, since males as well as females can be victims of sexual assault, and because gender-biased training risks violating Title IX) appears to presuppose that sexual assault victims are female, listing “toxic masculinity” as a cause of sexual assault. Would a Williams adjudicator, faithfully following this type of training, have decided to overlook the accuser’s dubious conduct? Even more problematically, the training includes a slide entitled “Meet Frank,” an apparent reference to a composite character—from decades ago—from researcher David Lisak. An exposé in Reason raised significant questions about Lisak’s credibility in his use of “Frank,” who the researcher inaccurately presented as a single person rather than a collection of quotes. The training also has several slides about trauma-informed investigation, a controversial theory debunked by Emily Yoffe in a high-profile Atlantic article.

Also striking is what the training doesn’t contain. It doesn’t, for instance, mention the presumption of innocence. Or the need for fairness. Or the importance of allowing the accused student a meaningful opportunity to defend himself.

In short, the training appears designed to make it more likely that a Williams disciplinary panel will return a guilty finding when considering sexual assault allegations.

The second item from the filings: the accused student’s lawyer included a snippet of the deposition from the investigator Williams hired for the case, an employment lawyer named Allyson Kurker. The deposition has little of substance, though Kurker’s confusion about Williams’ standards is a little striking.

More interesting here is Williams’ decision to hire Kurker in the first place. In Title IX litigation, Kurker is best-known as the investigator in an Amherst case that might well be the single most unfair adjudication of any in the country since the 2011 change in policy. (The student sued Amherst, easily survived a motion to dismiss, and then the college settled.) Kurker’s investigation failed to uncover critical, exculpatory text messages sent on the night of the incident by the accuser. Then, in depositions, she attempted to dismiss the texts’ significance on grounds that the relevant texts would have been those that corroborated the accuser’s story.

Given that record, what was the process used by Williams in hiring Kurker?

In terms of where the case might go from here, two thoughts. First, on Friday, the judge in the Williams case, Michael Ponsor, ruled in favor of UMass in a lawsuit filed by an accused student named James Haidak. Though Ponsor gave a token acknowledgement to the due process concerns, most of his lengthy opinion outlined his very forgiving standard toward college actions.

Despite some factual differences, the UMass and Williams cases have at least one important similarity: in both cases, the accused student was a highly unsympathetic figure. There’s certainly nothing in Ponsor’s holding to suggest that he (unlike judges in many of the dozens of due process cases in which the college has been on the losing end) is a judge who’s particularly concerned about the problem of unfair campus adjudication procedures.

On the other hand: while only around two dozen accused students have survived motions to dismiss on Title IX claims, colleges have been vulnerable in cases where the female student also appeared to have committed some form of misconduct, yet the institution only investigated and punished the male student. For a particularly obvious example of this pattern, see page 37 of the decision in the Amherst case.

Usually, these cases involve a single incident (for instance, sex when both parties are extremely drunk, and so neither student had the ability to consent under often-restrictive college rules). The Williams case doesn’t feature such a fact pattern—but in one respect, it’s worse: the college seemed indifferent to the possibility that a female employee was filing retaliatory complaints against a student. If, in the end, Williams loses this case, the college’s decision to so blatantly favor one party in a deeply dysfunctional relationship will likely be the reason why.

Why won’t (can’t?) the Record cover this important case, especially stuff like the absurdity of hiring Kurker?

By the way, is Kurker still working for Williams?

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The Parable of the Privilege Pill

This comment from abl leads to the Parable of the Privilege Pill.

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

Imagine that Son 2, on the other hand, takes a magic Privilege Pill on the first day of 9th grade, a pill which dramatically increases his academic performance for four years. He will receive excellent grades in high school and do very well on the SAT. Williams Admissions will rate him an AR 1 and, probably, admit him if he applies.

Williams would not (and should not) admit Son 2 if it knew about the Privilege Pill. By assumption, the pill only lasts for four years. After that, Son 2 becomes identical to Son 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 scored as 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 fancy high school like Andover or Stuyvesant. But let’s ignore that subtlety for now.

The last defense of the opponents of privilege is to focus on junior/senior year. Yes, the poor/URM AR 3s and 4s that Williams currently accepts don’t do as well as the AR 1s and 2s in their overall GPA. But that is precisely because of their lack of privilege, or so the argument goes. After a couple of years, Williams has helped them to catch up, has made up for their childhood difficulties and obstacles.

Alas, that hopeful story isn’t true either. AR 3s/4s do worse than AR 1s/2s even after two years of wonderful Williams.

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.

If Williams wants better students — students who write better essays, solve more difficult math problems, complete more complex science experiments — it should admit better applicants.

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March For Life

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This photo is from the official Williams College Instagram feed.

1) Some of the comments are, uh, less than charitable:

ehanson55: Embarrassing and disappointing content from @williamscollege at this political moment. Whose side are you on?

milesklee: booooooooooo

elspeththemac: As an institution, you must recognize that what you post makes a stand for what you believe in. I realize that you’re trying to support the Williams community (and I love us Ephs!) But this shouldn’t be a catch-all account. By posting a photo with a flag that blatantly reads RIGHT TO PROTECT THE UNBORN, you are no longer simply celebrating the diverse Williams community, but making a stand for pro-birth and inserting yourself into a discussion around reproductive rights – which I’m guessing wasn’t well thought out. In the future, I would recommend that this type of sensitive content stay targeted to more specific audiences like the Williams Catholic group (or not posted at all if Williams doesn’t actually have a firm stance). I would also suggest that Williams reevaluates its digital strategy & mission. Keep celebrating Williams! (But please consider your audience & the responsibilities around running a social community as an institution.)

jocief: ‘13 alum here. Showing students in attendance of an anti-choice rally is not representing “diverse views”, it’s facilitating and supporting an oppressive movement. Disappointing.

2) Kudos to Jim Reische and his team for posting the photo. Their policy is the right policy: If an official Williams student organization participates in an event and sends them a photo, they will post it. Viewpoint neutrality for the win!

3) A different policy would be to not post photos of anything political. That would be defensible, but probably just as annoying for people like ehanson55.

Question for readers: Whose side are you on?

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Welcome President Mandel

To the Williams Community,

It is my honor and pleasure to inform you that on Sunday, March 11, the Board of Trustees appointed Maud S. Mandel as the 18th president of Williams College. President-elect Mandel, who will begin her tenure at Williams on July 1, 2018, currently serves as Dean of the College and Professor of History and Judaic studies at Brown University.

You can learn more about President-elect Mandel by watching a video interview we’ve posted on the special announcement website, where you’ll also find her CV and other information about her scholarship and career.

I could not be more excited about welcoming Maud Mandel to the college. She has a distinguished record as a scholar, a teacher and an academic leader, and has demonstrated throughout her career a deep and abiding affection for the students, faculty and staff who together create a great academic enterprise. She embodies the values at our core and will provide outstanding leadership as we continue to pursue our shared aspirations for Williams.

I want to thank the members of the Presidential Search Committee for their extraordinary work leading to this terrific result for Williams. We were privileged to meet many exceptional people in the course of our search, and all of us on the Committee, and on the Board of Trustees, were truly inspired by President-elect Mandel during the selection process.

We look forward to welcoming President-elect Mandel for a visit to campus in early April, and will provide details as soon as the agenda is confirmed. In the meantime, you can begin to get to know her by exploring the materials on the announcement website.

Congratulations to President-elect Mandel, and best wishes to all of us as we begin this next chapter in the extraordinary history of Williams College.

With warm best regards,

Michael Eisenson ’77
Chair, Presidential Search Committee
Chair, Williams College Board of Trustees

Worth a week to review this material?

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March Faculty Meeting

The March faculty meeting is tomorrow. See (here) for the relevant material. Comments:

1) Thanks to our sources! At some point, we will create a full collection of faculty meeting material. To see what we already have, start here.

2) Given that these documents are sent to 300+ people, they ought to just be posted publicly, especially since they represent Williams at its best.

3) I don’t see much of interest here. Do you? I would probably vote against this:

In addition to the divisional motions, there will be motions for proposals by the Theatre Department and the Dance Department to provide a record of student participation in productions and in studio courses, respectively, in the form of a 0.5 partial credit fifth course that would not count towards the 32 courses needed for graduation, analogous to the credit offered for lessons and some small ensemble participation in Music.

I don’t see a reason to load up the transcript, or bother the registrar, with this sort of stuff. Contrary opinions welcome!

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Latest Legal Filing from Safety Dance

Here (107-main) is the latest legal filing in the Safety Dance sexual assault case. Here (107-1, 107-2, 107-3, 107-4, 107-5, 107-6, 107-7, 107-8, 107-9, 107-10, 107-11) are the exhibits.

Case summary: Male Williams student engages in two year long sexual relationship with female student-then-employee. At the end of that relationship, female employee physically assaults male student. Male student reports assault which goes ignored by Williams. After male student pushes for the complaint to be investigated, female employee makes retaliatory counter complaint, alleging she had been subjected to two years of “abuse” by the student. At the eleventh hour into the investigation, nearly three years after the commencement of their relationship, employee alleges that the two had sex eighteen months earlier without the female providing “affirmative consent.” That is, the male is not accused of a “rape” that any US prosecutor would ever pursue. The woman did not resist or say any form of “No.” Male student finishes all requirements for graduation but Williams expels him for sexual assault and refuses to give him his degree. He has sued.

My comments are mostly the same as they were 10 months ago:

1) Reader (especially lawyer) comments are welcome! What is your sense of John Doe’s odds of success?

2) Should we spend a week going through these filings? Reader interest seems to be lagging.

3) Why won’t the Record cover this story? It is incompetence, political correctness or something else? I am honestly curious . . .

4) Why won’t the College just give Doe his degree? I could, perhaps, understand why the College might fight to enforce an expulsion if settlement required allowing the accused student to come back on campus. But why the Ahab-like insistence om preventing Doe from getting his degree?

5) Can anyone provide more details on educational options for students expelled from places like Williams? Several students (how many?) have been expelled from Williams over the last 5 years for sexual assault. What happens to them? Presumably, they still want/need a college degree? Are they allowed to transfer to other schools? Can they use their Williams credits? I don’t know . . . but surely our readers do! In case it matters, Doe is a New York State resident. Could he transfer (almost) all his credits to some SUNY school, take a class or two, and then get his degree? Or would SUNY deny his transfer application because of his expulsion from Williams?

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A Sunday Break: Minimalist Oscar Posters …

Last week’s Oscar ceremony is over . You may have watched or read the reviews and viewpoints. I can just say two words to Ephblog … “inclusion clause”.

However, that is not my point this first Sunday am 2018 in DST. It is this story by Dan Howarth in the 2 March edition of the on-line Dezeen Magazine featuring minimalist designs by Chungkong for six of the nine finalists for the Best Picture award.

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Four of the movies with their studio release posters are shown above with Chungkongs’s posters for compare and contrast.

From the article …

The colourful designs are intended to capture the essence of the movies in as little detail as possible. Oriented portrait, each features the movie’s title and a director credit at the top, and a summarising quote from the film in smaller text towards the bottom.

The Shape of Water, a love story by Guillermo del Toro about a mute cleaning lady that falls in love with an aquatic humanoid creature, is depicted with the outlines of their faces covered with bubbles – all in blue-green shades.

The poster for the Best Picture-winning The Shape of Water also is a reference to the famous optical illusion of a footed vase and two facing profiles.

Now where did that hour go …

 

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#MeToo on Wall Street

Typically excellent article from Benthany McLean ’92 in Vanity Fair:

Our month-long training program [at Goldman Sachs, where McLean worked after graduating from Williams] felt like a continuation of college, with plenty of parties and lots of alcohol. But, of course, it wasn’t college. Unwritten rules had very real career repercussions if you broke them, and they were very different for men and for women. Even small missteps, such as making out with a person in your class, could get a woman marked, but would enhance a man’s reputation. When the real work started, almost immediately a senior man held himself to me as a mentor of sorts. I was failing at work, he told me, and I had made myself “too visible.” He alone saw something redeemable in me. But, of course, his “friendship” came with strings attached (despite the fact that he had an out-of-town girlfriend). I wasn’t sure how to say no.

I felt trapped—my parents, who were at home in Hibbing, Minnesota (population 19,000), were lovely, but very clear that any support was over. Perhaps because I was in search of a savior, I had a too public affair with a colleague my own age, which ended when another analyst pulled me aside and told me the man had a girlfriend. (Life lesson: Save yourself.) When another (married) senior vice president tried to get into my hotel room it was a soul-crushing moment, because I felt that I had set myself up.

All of this made it hard for me to have the kind of chipper, can-do attitude so prized in junior roles. I finally transitioned into a more quantitative role, which utilized my skills, and I distinctly remember a moment when I decided I was either going to quit or finish the job with my head held high. From that point on I did nothing but work, and I stuck it out for three years—I had something to prove. In retrospect, I think what bothered me most was the knowledge that, while we were all going to be judged for things besides the quality of our work, for women, extra-professional judgments accrued almost entirely to our disadvantage, whereas for men, at least the white-male sporty types, it was the opposite. It felt brutally unfair.

Read the whole thing. It is a (surprisingly?) “conservative” take on the #MeToo phenomenon. Worth spending a week on?

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The Age of Nerf Maoism

An anonymous Williams professor writes:

Obviously the shift to DPE reflects a broader transition, ideologically, from Identity Politics 1.0 (let us celebrate our differences!) to Identity Politics 2.0 (let us root out the oppressors!). Ours is the age of nerf Maoism.

After that email they went around shaking the curricular trees of individual departments, supplying lists of courses that had previously been EDI-certified and asking if we would consider placing them under the DPE umbrella.

In a way the DPE requirement has less teeth than EDI ever did, because you don’t have to approach a special committee of ideological enforcers to get your course the DPE certification (like you did for EDI courses in the past). The decision is made at the unit level. Whatever a department thinks satisfies the requirement is good to go. This makes the dearth of courses even more hilarious.

Apparently the CEA believe that faculty just can’t be bothered to fill out the paperwork. Isn’t it equally possible that people take DPE so seriously that they need time to develop a new set of courses that satisfy the standard? (Didn’t anyone consider this in implementing the new requirement?) One feels that even the CEA is on the verge of admitting the change is essentially cosmetic.

Background reading on this topic: one, two, three, four.

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Snow: a constant at Williams …

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… and perhaps a meditative blanket over the rough terrain reported in Ephblog.

 

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New Associate Dean of the Faculty

From a faculty source:

Dear Colleagues,

I am delighted to announce that Katarzyna Pieprzak, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, has agreed to serve as Associate Dean of the Faculty for two years, starting August 1, 2018.

Kashia earned her PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan and taught at the City University of New York before arriving at Williams in 2003. Her research interests include 20th and 21st century artistic and literary engagements with urban space in North Africa; museum studies with a focus on institutional decolonization; and gender and migration in the Francophone world. She is the author of Imagined Museums: Art and Modernity in Post-Colonial Morocco (University of Minnesota Press: 2010), and co-editor of two volumes: Land and Landscape in Francographic Literature and Africanity in North African Visual Culture, a special issue of the African Art History journal Critical Interventions. Her new book in progress, The Traveling Bidonville, explores the relationship between aesthetics and the possibility of political constitution in shantytowns in North Africa and France.

Kashia’s work as associate dean will focus on faculty development, drawing on her strong record of service and leadership experience. She has taken a couple turns at chairing the Department of Romance Language and Literatures and is currently chairing Arabic Studies. She has also been elected to the CEP (now CEA) and the Faculty Review Panel, chaired the Olmsted Prize Committee, and served very capably as co-director of the First3 initiative for the last two years.

This associate deanship is a rotating position. Kashia will succeed Rhon Manigault-Bryant, Associate Professor of Africana Studies, who has served in this role since summer 2016. John Gerry will continue to serve as associate dean as well, and Megan Konieczny as assistant dean. Those two positions provide the dean’s office with points of continuity, as do Justine Beringer and Barb Pietras who support the faculty in many, many ways. Indeed, we have a very experienced team, also including Carrie Greene and Veronica Bosley who manage academic events, Ric Grefé who oversees our design thinking pilot, and Denise Buell who will return as Dean of the Faculty. We all look forward to working with Kashia when she joins us this summer.

Best wishes,

Lee

Lee Park

Interim Dean of the Faculty

1) Comments from any insiders? Pieprzak does not seem an obvious member of the faculty’s diversity-über-alles wing.

2) See here for a nice intro to Pieprzak’s academic work.

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