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Spoke to the White House

Could Trump do a deal with Senator Chris Murphy ’96?

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Weekend Links

“Affirmative Consent” as a Legal Standard?” by former Williams professor KC Johnson.

Training the next generation of ethical techies” by Ethan Zuckerman ’93.

Check-in time arrives for new Williams Inn” in the Berkshire Eagle.

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April 2019 Faculty Meeting Notes

Here (pdf) is a rough draft for the official faculty meeting notes for April.

1) Make these public! Given that they are distributed to scores (?) of Ephs, and describe an event that 300+ people were invited to and that is (?) open to the public (or at least to Record reporters?), there is no plausible reason to hide them.

2) By not making them public, Dean of the Faculty Denise Buell just drives more traffic to EphBlog. Thanks! I guess . . .

3) I “worry” that, at some point, there will be a spoof/fake version of these notes which appear to be real but which have been altered for nefarious/pedagogical purposes. Without a public record of the real notes, how can we (or the Record!) know the truth?

4) On admissions:

I don’t like this.

We should accept the best students, those who did well academically in high school and are likely to do well academically at Williams. We reject 100s of AR 1s each year. We should never accept an AR 2 (or 3? or 4?) just because she is a veteran or older or has gone to a community college.

5) On graduate programs:

Meanwhile, President Mandel said that she had been reading the various suggestions she had received with respect to new academic initiatives. A number of those initiatives – twenty-three in all, ranging from the very broad to the quite specific – had come from small groups of faculty working together. Some, she said, would fall into the “teaching and learning bucket,” such as the suggestions both for a formal teaching and learning center and for the more adequate teaching of writing. Other academic initiatives, she said, focused on sustainability, development, and global climate change, with proposals for a graduate program, such as that offered by the Center for Development Economics.

One of the working groups should answer this question: How many graduate programs should Williams offer? This is an important strategic question which smart Ephs should study for 6 months and then report back to us. What is the history of such programs at Williams? How do such programs work at peer schools? What are the precise economics of current programs? And so on. This is an issue which merits the adjective strategic.

It is highly unlikely that the optimal number of graduate programs is two: precisely the number that we currently have!

Odds of this happening? Less than 5%. Williams does not seem equipt to ask, much less answer, such big questions.

My answer: We should drop our two current masters programs: Center for Development Economics and Clark Art. Neither makes any more sense than the old Chemistry Masters which we offered fifty years ago. We should have a laser-like focus on the quality of the undergraduate education we offer. Everything else is a side-show.

What parts of the faculty meeting notes stand out to you?

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wife(?)

Your weekly opportunity to argue about politics . . .

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Weekend Links

Will the ABA Reject Due Process?” by former Williams professor KC Johnson.

They left their corporate jobs to write kids’ books in a barn. But a fairy-tale life is hard work” about Ephs Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson.

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Your Alumni Donations at Work

From WAMC:

Some residents of Berkshire County plan to argue Tuesday against the installation of an artificial turf.

Tuesday night, the Mt. Greylock School Committee will hold a forum at the public high school to hear comments on a plan to install an artificial turf field.

“The high school after years of an ancient building finally got the town funding and state funding to move forward with the new building project,” said Anne O’Connor. She has been a member of the Williamstown select board for two terms.

“And that building project is essentially complete now but what could not be funded by the state was anything for the outdoor facilities, as well as for housing of the superintendent, the district office,” explained O’Connor.

Williams College stepped in with a $5 million donation to the school to be used however Mt. Greylock sees fit.

I am not a Williamstown resident. I leave it to them to decide how much money to raise in taxes and how to spend it. Williamstown is a richer than average town in a richer than average state. I am sure they will be fine!

But it drives me crazy that Williams College spends millions of dollars on this nonsense. I don’t give money to Williams so that the College can turn around and give money to Williamstown for a turf field, or any other purpose. I give money to Williams to directly improve the quality of the education that the College provides to its students. A new turf field does not do this.

EphBlog Maxim #9: The best way to predict the behavior of Williams is to imagine that the College is run by a cabal of corrupt insiders who seek to use our endowment to better their own lives. Previous discussion here.

Millions of dollars to Mount Greylock does nothing for Williams students. But it might do quite a bit for Maud’s daughter, currently a MGRHS student . . .

The only way to avoid this conflict is to stop shoveling money at local institutions. If the good people of Williamstown want a turf field, then they should tax themselves to pay for it.

How can Maud, or any Williams administrator, possibly be objective when the topic is: How much money should we transfer from the Williams endowment in order to improve the education of our own children? They can’t! The best solution to this dilemma is for Williams, as a matter of policy, not to give dollars to local non-profits. (I have no problem with donations in-kind, like the use of chemistry labs for enrichment classes for local students.)

Recall (from 2003!):

A one-time, $250,000 gift from Williams College given earlier this year is expected to restore 5.2 of the 10.8 teaching positions cut from the fiscal 2004 budget.

There is no such thing as a “one-time” gift from Williams . . .

And to think that I used to complain about 6 figure gifts! How naive I was . . .

Read the whole article, and note the quotes from friend-of-EphBlog Nick Wright ’57.

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11% International Students in the Class of 2023

EphBlog has been banging the drum for increased international admissions for almost 15 years. (Relevant posts here, here, and here.) Recall EphBlog’s demand/request/prediction a year ago.

Brown is at 11% international. Woo-Hoo! If Mandel moves Williams to 11% (from our current 7%, pdf), she will instantly be a better president than Falk.

Emphasis in the original. And EphBlog gets results! The Williams class of 2023 is 11% international. Comments:

1) Yeah, Maud! This change, along with her affirmation of academic freedom at Williams, make President Mandel a most excellent president, at least according to EphBlog.

2) New Director of Admissions Sulgi Lim ’06 reported this news at the Admissions Open House during alumni week-end. Sadly, Sulgi, unlike her boss, Provost Dukes Love, does not believe in sharing her public presentations with Ephs who are too poor or busy to attend events like this one. Boo!

3) Sulgi described the change as being caused by two factors. Her office was allowed to admit more international applicants than before. And the yield was higher than expected. I do not know the relative importance of the two changes.

4) There are 45 international students (pdf) in class of 2022. (Prior few years were 41, 41, 46, 49 and 37.) Eleven percent of approximately 535 — 550 would be about 58 — 60 students.

5) Key question: Has there been an official change in the Williams quota — oops! I mean “goal” — for international enrollment? I hope so! The best college in the world will be 50% non-US by 2050. The sooner that Williams moves in that direction, the more likely we are to retain our status.

6) Sulgi talked the usual nonsense about the diversity of international admissions, bragging about the 29 (?) countries represented. Nothing wrong with diversity (of course!) but, in general, the applicant from poor country X is not really representative of X. Instead, she is the daughter of country X’s ambassador to England, and has been educated in international schools all her life. (Not that there is anything wrong with country X or ambassadors or England or international schools!) As long as she is academically excellent EphBlog does not care.

7) Unstated by Sulgi, but known to her and to everyone with a clue about international applicants, the central issue is Asia, especially China and the Chinese diaspora. Williams could probably admit 100 English-fluent students with academic credentials — and likely academic performance at Williams — in the top 10% of the class. We should not admit all 100 tomorrow. But we do need a faculty committee to look closely at the issue of international admissions.

UPDATE: For weird technical reasons, I may not be able to post comments at EpHblog for a couple of weeks. Fortunately, I can still update this post. Here are further thoughts on this topic:

> Any reason 50% instead of 70%?

1) I am not overly committed to 50% as a prediction. I am completely committed to increasing the current 11% higher.

2) I still think 50% is a good prediction because a (major?) part of what Williams is selling is a US education. Can you really provide a US education with a 70% international student body? I am not sure. And I expect that Chinese parents would be even less sure . . .

3) I think that 30% is less likely than 50% because I think that a) the morality of having an international quota, like the morality of having a Jewish quota, becomes less tenable over time. It wasn’t just me that has caused the doubling of the international student body at Williams over the last decade or so. Was it? ;-)

4) I think that competitive pressures and a herd mentality come into play. Every time school X becomes more international, it becomes easier/necessary for school Y to become more international. But 50% is still a more reasonable stopping point than 70%, because of 2).

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Morning Joe & Psycho

EphBlog loves it whenever a president tweets about an Eph.

For the second time this summer, Donald Trump has used his Twitter account to label a high-profile woman a “psycho.” Last month it was Bette Midler. On Tuesday, Mika Brzezinski who was targeted, as the president laid into her and her Morning Joe co-host (and new husband), Joe Scarborough.

Trump slammed the real-life couple and MSNBC hosts over their TV ratings, then accused them of spreading “fake news.” He went on to credit the show for helping “get me elected.” He then added a tweet tagging the Fox News show Fox & Friends, which is known for toeing the Trump party line.

Want to argue about politics? This is your weekly chance to do so.

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Weekend Links

The “Downside of Diversity” by Anthony Kronman ’68 in the Wall Street Journal.

Former Williams QB takes over as offensive coordinator at Boston College” in the Berkshire Eagle, about Mike Bajakian ’95.

Williamstown Celebrates New Police Station With Ribbon Cutting, Night Out Open House” in iBerkshires.

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Kramer ’03 is Particularly Perturbed

The Chronicle of Education reports:

The journal Ethnic and Racial Studies is standing by an article that has proved controversial among sociologists and race scholars. The article, about the Black Lives Matter movement, was peer-reviewed and underwent major revisions before being published, the journal said on Tuesday.

In an open letter (doc) circulating online, Szetela is criticized for ignoring, or misunderstanding, black feminism, among other disciplines.

“We are particularly perturbed by this because of the long history of negation of research by people from marginalized backgrounds as neither rigorous nor empirical research,” says the letter, which was primarily written by Buggs and Rory Kramer, an associate professor of sociology and criminology at Villanova University.

If Rory, a former EphBlog board member, has time to engage in these sorts of intra-progressive wars, he must have received tenure from Villanova. If so, congratulations! I wish I had tenure . . .

Thanks to an anonymous Williams faculty member for the link.

article below the break
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Weekend Links

Let’s try a new experiment. Each weekend, I will put up a post called “Weekend Links,” including links from All Things Eph, both recent and ancient. Below the break, I will also include long quotations from the links.

The main goal is to provide my co-bloggers with a buffet of topics to choose from, should they wish to do so. Readers may also find the links interesting. And I need to free up some tabs on my browser!

Comments will be turned off so that any discussion about these topics is saved until another blogger chooses to write about them during the week. I don’t want these conversations to start ahead of time.

Here goes!

Oren Cass ’05 on “The Communal Power of a Real Job” in the New York Times.

Anthony Kronman’s ’68 latest book discussed in the New York Times.

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Eph Fecudity

How many children does an average Eph have? My current guess is at least 1.5, and probably more.

Consider a not-so-randomly selected first-year entry from the mid 1980s. Those Ephs are now into their 50s with, presumably, most of their reproduction complete. The entry had 24 students, 12 men and 12 women. It has produced at least 36 children. Three of the women and (I think) three of the men had no offspring. The remaining 18 averaged exactly two children each. Comments:

1) This is a minimum. If I only relied on the Alumni Directory, I would only have found 32 children. One (male) alum, with 4 children, had not recorded any of them in the directory. I may have missed others.

I am especially suspicious of two other male alums with no children listed. I think — opinions welcome! — that male alums are much less likely to be childless than female alums, and that male alums are less likely to have accurate entries in the directory. Or is that an unfair stereotype?

2) Perhaps some (older!) readers could report the data for their own freshmen entries? Although entries are small, they are (very?) random, so just counting all the children from a single entry probably provides a not-unreasonable estimate.

3) Given that I sampled 24 students out of a class of 500, what is the confidence interval for my 1.5 estimate? I probably should have kept track of the 24 individual values and done a bootstrap . . .

4) This is relevant for our discussions about legacy admissions. If 1.5 is accurate then, for the class of 2024, applying this fall, there are 750 or so high school seniors with an Eph parent (and hundreds more with an Eph grandparent). Around 75 of them will become students at Williams. Is is hard to believe that the top 10% of the distribution of Williams children might be academically equivalent to the other 475 members of the class of 2024? Not at all.

5) A rigorous way of exploring this conclusion would be to calculate the expected regression to the mean of children in terms of the academic abilities of their parents. Smart people have smart children, but generally not children as smart as them. So, the average child of an Eph would not be smart enough to get into Williams. But the top 10%? I bet yes. (Readers are welcome to provide their own calculations in the comments.)

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Form 990 History

The leadership of Williams was modestly paid back in 1977.

Forty one years later, things are different.

Purpose of this post, updated once a year, is to maintain our history of the Form 990s issued by Williams. (Thanks to John Wilson ’64 for leading the charge on these efforts.)

Form 990 is an IRS requirement filed by all US non-profits. It is a confusing document that has changed significantly over the years. See here for background reading. Williams only provides versions going back to 2009. Future historians will thank us for archiving older versions: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. In fact, because Williams occasionally hides things that it once made public, let’s go ahead and save the more recent filings: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The College archives include earlier versions. At some point, we need to scan them. In the meantime, the wonderful Sylvia Brown provided one page (pdf) of the 1977 submission, from which the above screen shot is taken.

Inflation from 1977 to 2018 was a little over 400%. Professor salaries have kept pace. Administrator salaries have exploded.

I will ask the same question I asked Morty Schapiro in 2004.

Grant for the moment that Morty’s $400,000 annual package is fair and appropriate. But, certainly at some point, the President’s salary would be too high. How high is too high? At what point should I, as an alum asked to donate time and money, start to worry that the College is paying its President too much? If I am at this same event five years from now, would there be any problem with the President’s salary being $500k or $800k or $2 million?

If a complete mediocrity like Falk, the worst Williams president since World War II, is being paid $750,000 all-in, where does this trend end?

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Transgender Athletes in NESCAC?

How long before a Williams female athlete competes against a transgender athlete? How long before a transgender female competes for Williams? Not too long, I bet.

A transgender woman who competed as a man as recently as last year won an NCAA women’s track national championship on Saturday.

Franklin Pierce University senior Cece Telfer beat the eight-woman field in the Division II women’s 400-meter hurdles by more than a second, with a personal collegiate-best time of 57.53.

Telfer competed against Middlebury runners in 2018. But, back then, she was a man. Does that count or not? Honest question! (Apologies if I am not using pronouns in the appropriate manner.) So, to my knowledge, no transgender female has competed for a NESCAC team and no female NESCAC athlete has competed against a transgender female.

Contrary examples welcome!

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The Chin

Nothing more fun than when the President tweets at an Eph:

Tom Friedman is an Eph parent and honorary degree recipient.

This is an opportunity to argue about politics, if you are so inclined . . .

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New EphBlog Format

Got opinions on the new EphBlog format? Let us know in the comments.

1) Basic motivation is that half our readers come to us on mobile phones and the previous format — now more than a decade old — was ill-suited for such viewing. (I had to turn my phone sideways and, with my fingers, expand out the center column. I assume others had similar problems. If not, tell us!)

2) Main thing is to remove all clutter and allow scarce screen space to be filled with text from the most recent posts. This means one column.

3) We are using Twenty Nineteen, a widely used WordPress theme.

4) We hope to fix two things quickly: a) place our traditional cover photo at the top of the page and b) provide a box or menu of some kind on the upper right which would show, perhaps after a click, the most recent comments. For now, you can see all Recent Comments (and other material like Related Posts) by clicking on a post and scrolling to the bottom of it.

5) Suggestions are welcome, both general and technical.

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Hardy ’10 New Assistant Coach at San Antonio Spurs

Twitter is blowing up with news that Will Hardy ’10 will be a new assistant coach at the San Antonio Spurs.

The San Antonio Spurs on Monday announced that Will Hardy and Tim Duncan will be added to Gregg Popovich’s bench as assistant coaches.

Hardy first joined the Spurs as a basketball operations intern in 2010 after graduating from Williams College.

“Will Hardy is a talented, young basketball mind who has earned a great deal of respect from everyone in the organization thanks to his knowledge, spirit and personality,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich.

Oh, yeah. Some other guy also got hired as an assistant coach, but EphBlog doesn’t care about that!

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Modes of Discourse

This (slightly edited) overview by Alastair Roberts (via Steve Sailer) of contrasting modes of discourse gets at some of the problems we have seen at EphBlog over the last 16 years.

In observing the interaction between David Dudley Field ’24 and his critics in the recent debate, I believe that we were witnessing a collision of two radically contrasting modes of discourse. The first mode of discourse, represented by DDF’s critics, is one in which sensitivity, inclusivity, and inoffensiveness are key values, and in which persons and positions are ordinarily closely related. The second mode of discourse, displayed by DDF, is one characterized and enabled by personal detachment from the issues under discussion, involving highly disputational and oppositional forms of rhetoric, scathing satire, and ideological combativeness.

When these two forms of discourse collide they are frequently unable to understand each other and tend to bring out the worst in each other. The first form of discourse seems lacking in rationality and ideological challenge to the second; the second can appear cruel and devoid of sensitivity to the first. To those accustomed to the second mode of discourse, the cries of protest at supposedly offensive statements may appear to be little more than a dirty and underhand ploy intentionally adopted to derail the discussion by those whose ideological position can’t sustain critical challenge. However, these protests are probably less a ploy than the normal functioning of the particular mode of discourse characteristic of that community, often the only mode of discourse that those involved are proficient in.

To those accustomed to the first mode of discourse, the scathing satire and sharp criticism of the second appears to be a vicious and personal attack, driven by a hateful animus, when those who adopt such modes of discourse are typically neither personally hurt nor aiming to cause such hurt. Rather, as this second form of discourse demands personal detachment from issues under discussion, ridicule does not aim to cause hurt, but to up the ante of the debate, exposing the weakness of the response to challenge, pushing opponents to come back with more substantial arguments or betray their lack of convincing support for their position. Within the first form of discourse, if you take offense, you can close down the discourse in your favor; in the second form of discourse, if all you can do is to take offense, you have conceded the argument to your opponent, as offense is not meaningful currency within such discourse.

Read the whole thing. I, obviously, am a second mode Eph.

All Ephs are welcome here, but my basic mode won’t be changing any time soon . . .

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Professor Gibson on Fox

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Dylan Barbour ’16 on The Bachelorette


Should we be proud or embarrassed?

With so many studs to choose from, who is Dylan on The Bachelorette — and why should you care?

Dylan is a man with many layers. His ABC bio states, “the majority of his friends are female,” which could mean he’s sensitive, a good listener, and compassionate. He’s a basketball fan who enjoys scuba diving, driving his boat, and cooking (I’m free for dinner, thanks). The cutie also has a couple of sentimental tattoos including a palm tree on his ankle and a heart with roses on his chest for his mom and dad.

EphBlog also has many layers, but no tattoos.

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A New EphBlog for 2019-2020

We are running a new experiment at EphBlog. Four Ephs — Whitney Wilson ’90, recentgrad, purple & gold and The Good Son — have each agreed to write one entry per week for EphBlog from July 22, 2019 through July 31, 2020. In conjunction with this experiment, JCD has kindly agreed to a one year vacation from posting and commenting. My thoughts:

1) EphBlog discussions over the last year have not been as productive as they might be. Perhaps this experiment will help!

2) Many thanks to our volunteers, some of whom have been around EphBlog for years and some of whom are brand new to our community. In fact, they cover a 34-year range of classes.

3) Three of the four prefer to maintain their anonymity. Attempts to dox them, or any member of our community, will result in banning.

4) Our preliminary plan is for each of us to be responsible for a morning post one day a week, Monday through Friday. Of course, we (especially me) can/will post on other days as well. Because of travel plans, the experiment will start slowly but should be full operational in a few weeks.

5) Suggestions to our new authors would be much appreciated! What do you want to read more of at EphBlog?

Comments related to JCD will be deleted from this thread.

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Advice for EphBlog Authors

Do you want to write for EphBlog? You would be welcome!

E-mail daviddudleyfield@gmail.com (or, of you know it, my personal e-mail) with two pieces of information: the email you want to use (must work but does not need to be the email you are writing me from) and your preferred login id (which can not have spaces nor punctuation marks).

Note that the login id is visible on the site because that is how WordPress organizes all your posts. Mine is “ddf” and you can see all my posts here. So, if you want to post anonymously, don’t choose a login which identifies you.

WordPress will send a temporary password to that e-mail address along with a link to the login location, which is here and is also available at the bottom of the right-hand column, below Recent Comments. Login, change your password and create your “Display Name.” This is what will show up under your posts. Mine is “David Dudley Field ’24.” If you don’t do this, your login id will be displayed.

You are also welcome to preserve your anonymity even with me. (In fact, you can do this even if we know each other and/or you have written for EphBlog before.) Just follow the above instructions from an anonymous e-mail account. That way, even I won’t know your name, which is fine by me.

Here is some advice about where to find topics which fall under the rubric of All Things Eph.

1) The are dozens of Record articles which we fail to cover. A link to an article, along with a quotation, and perhaps some questions or comments, is a great post. Our coverage of editorials and op-eds over the last year has been especially weak.

2) The Record archives are now hosted by the College. Just type in a word or phrase in the search box. Lots of great stuff from history to post about!

3) Follow Williams College or Williams Athletics or various Williams professors on Twitter and other social media. Lots of good material almost everyday.

4) Posts about current events are welcome, but you must take the trouble to find an Eph connection. “All Things Eph” includes, for example, every tweet or public statement by prominent Ephs like Senator Chris Murphy ’96, Erin Burnett ’98 and Mika Brzezinski ’89. Post about, say, the Presidential election race if you like, but you have to “hang” your post on a comment by an Eph.

5) Post about past EphBlog topics. We now have 16+ years of archives to mine. There is a lot of good stuff there! And note that, each year, a big chunk of our readership turns over as 500 Ephs graduate and 500 first years (and their parents) arrive. Indeed, my own posting is more and more a collection of annual essays, improved over time and modeled on Professor Whit Stoddard’s ’35 legendary September lecture to first years titled “A Sense of Where You Are.”

6) Sign up for Google Alerts or a similar service. I use “Williams College” as my alert phrase. This gives me a once-a-day e-mail with virtually every mention of Williams in the press. Very handy!

Other items:

1) You are free to manage the comments in your own posts as you see fit. Authors “own” the comment threads which follow their posts and can do whatever they like there. Options include:

a) No management! You are a busy person and it is not your job to monitor EphBlog comments. This is what I do 99% of the time.

b) No (more) comments. Either at the start of the post or after the discussion has come off the rails, you can uncheck the “Allow comments” box. This does not affect comments that have already been made. It just prevents more comments.

c) Hit the “Trash” button. This removes a comment from your post and places it in the Trash. We occasionally post all the Trash comments so that folks can see what was removed.

d) Edit in place. I often just put “Deleted. — DDF” so that people can see that there was a comment (and who wrote it) and that I have deleted it. One could also put a reason, but life is short and I am usually too busy to explain myself to trolls.

2) Instead of leaving a long comment on one of my posts, I encourage you to create a new post with that comment and a link to my post. First, people don’t read the comments that much, so you wonderful prose is more likely to be seen in a new post. Second, it often helps the quality of the discussion to re-start it elsewhere.

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Latest Safety Dance Filings

Here are the latest filings in the Safety Dance sexual assault case:
163-main, 163-1 and 163-2. Followed up by this and that. Any comments?

Reminder:

Why do I call this case “Safety Dance?”

And the lyrics from the song “Safety Dance”:

We can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
Well they’re no friends of mine.

I say, we can go where we want to
A place where they will never find
And we can act like we come from out of this world
Leave the real one far behind
And we can dance

Alas, John Doe has discovered that, leaving the real world far behind, is not so easy when it comes to the sexual assault bureaucracy at Williams . . .

Key facts:

This is nuts! Does anyone disagree? Read the full document for details, but it is not disputed that Smith only complained about the alleged assault after her attempts to get Doe thrown out for a never-happened honor code violation failed.

I am honestly curious to know if there are readers who agree with the College’s decision to throw Doe out, denying him his degree even though he has completed all the requirements for graduation.

Maud: Settle this case! It is a sure loser for the College. You have had enough bad press already in 2019.

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Advice on Applying to Windows on Williams

Did you read Eph ’20’s excellent four part series on Windows on Williams (WOW)? You should! Part I, II, III and IV. Here is the application, which is due August 1. In recent years, there have been around 2,000 applicants, with 200 or so students accepted.

My advice for those who want to get in (and who recognize the morally suspect nature of the college admissions process):

1) Make your family as poor as possible. (Nothing here is meant to encourage you to “lie,” per se, but you should understand what Williams is looking for and adjust your application accordingly.) income
Whatever you think your family income is, chop that estimate in half. After all, you don’t really know, do you? Also, if there is any reason to think that income is variable, tell Williams the story. Also, keep in mind that Williams cares a lot about whether or not you will be eligible for a Pell Grant.

The maximum Federal Pell Grant for the 2019–20 award year (July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020) is $6,195.

Williams doesn’t care about that $6,195, and it doesn’t really care about exactly how poor you are. But it loves to brag about how many students qualify for Pell Grants. And Williams is also rated by other elites (here and here) on this criteria. So, I bet that applicants who report family incomes below $50,000 are much more likely to be accepted at WOW.

2) Make yourself as diverse as possible.race URM admissions at Williams is a fascinating topic. The two most relevant posts are probably here and here. Slightly modifying what I wrote 13 (!) years ago:

Note that the WOW application form gives you almost complete latitude in what boxes you check. It asks you to “indicate how you identify yourself.” In other words, there is no requirement that you “look” African-American or that other people identify you as African-America, you just have to “identify yourself” as African-American, just as, when she applied for a faculty position at Harvard, Elizabeth Warren identified herself as Native American.

Now, one hopes, that there isn’t too much truth-stretching going on currently. The Admissions Department only wants to give preferences to students who really are African-American, who add to the diversity of Williams because their experiences provide them with a very different outlook than their non-African-American peers. But those experiences can only come from some identification — by society toward you and/or by you to yourself — over the course of, at least, your high school years. How can you bring any meaningful diversity if you never thought of yourself as African-American (or were so thought of by others) until the fall of senior year?

The point here is not that the current admissions policy for WoW is bad or good. It is what it is. The point is that there are significant preferences given to those who check certain boxes and that cheap genetic testing will provide many people with a plausible excuse to check boxes that, a few years ago, they did not have.

Checking one of those boxes (other than white or Asian, of course!) will dramatically increase your odds of acceptance to WOW. Similar reasoning applies to the other diversity-lite questions, like first language spoken and language spoken at home.

3) Make your parents as uneducated as possible. (Relevant discussion here.) Back in the day, Williams measured socio-economic diversity on the basis of whether or not either parent had a four year college degree. I suspect that this matters much less now, but there is certainly no reason to exaggerate their educational credentials or, for that matter, socioeconomic status.

Good luck to all the applicants!

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Reading the Declaration

One of my favorite Williams summer traditions:

The Chapin Library of rare books at Williams College will host the annual July 4 reading of the Declaration of Independence by actors from the Williamstown Theatre Festival at 1:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Actors will read from the second floor outside balcony of Sawyer Library. Visitors should gather on the library quad west of Sawyer Library and between Schapiro and Hollander halls. In case of inclement weather, the event will take place inside Sawyer Library.

Since 1987, Williams College and the Williamstown Theatre Festival have made it an annual tradition to celebrate Independence Day by reading the Declaration of Independence, the British reply of September 1776, and the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

The annual event happens this afternoon. If you attend, send us some photos!

This year (for the first time?) the “reading will also include a selection from “What to a Slave is the Fourth of July,” a speech by Frederick Douglass.”

It is a sign of my wrong-think that this passage from Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities comes to mind. The [white] mayor of New York City is talking with Sheldon Lennart, his press flunky.

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Montalbano ’10 on Sixty Minutes

Hank Montalbano ’10 appeared in a 60 Minutes story:

We begin with a cautionary tale we first reported nearly two years ago: how five U.S. soldiers, including two Green Berets, died in Afghanistan on the night of June 9th, 2014.

The Pentagon concluded the deaths were an “avoidable” accident, known by the contradictory phrase “friendly fire.” It was the deadliest such incident involving U.S. fatalities in 18 long years of ongoing war in Afghanistan. It wasn’t gunfire that killed the U.S. soldiers. It was a pair of 500-pound bombs dropped right on top of them by a U.S. warplane.

You’re about to hear what happened that day from three of the soldiers who were there-including the Green Beret commander. They dispute the official version of events and warn it’s going to happen again. It started just after sundown on a sweltering night with a fierce fire-fight.

Brandon Branch: Bullets whizzing by, kickin up all around you.

Henry “Hank” Montalbano: At certain points it would die down, but it was unrelenting at other points.

I can’t figure out how to embed the video. Worth a watch.

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Sawicki Report, 6

President Maud Mandel has accepted the “recommendations in full” from the final report (pdf) of the Ad Hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion, chaired by Professor Jana Sawicki. Consistent with our prediction from November and following the advice we laid out in February, academic freedom has returned to Williams. See here, here, here and here for related EphBlog discussions. Maud Mandel has now cleaned up Adam Falk’s legacy. Let’s discuss! Day 6.

What follows are many small comments. If you think I should expand this into another week(s) of posts, speak now. Otherwise, this series ends today. It is possible that the free speechers on the Committee would agree with many of these but were forced by committee dynamics to pull their punches in order to reach consensus on the AAUP/PEN standards. If so, I withdraw my criticism.

1) Including PEN as part of the discussion with AAUP was a mistake. AAUP is, by far, the most important US organization concerned with academic freedom. It will be fighting this fight, and on the right side, 100 years from now. Will PEN? I have my doubts.

2) Why was PEN’s work so prominent in the Report? Presumably because committee member Eli Miller ’21 worked there last summer. Or maybe Miller was picked because his work at PEN suggested he would be a free-speecher?

3) Note how often the Report references and quotes from the College’s ​2017 Accreditation Self-Study (pdf). Key line: “Williams starts from a presumption of absolute intellectual and academic freedom as one of our foundational values.” Who put that there? And was it intended to set the stage for the repudiation of Falk’s decision? If so, well played Steve Fix!

4) I appreciate that the Report includes an extensive appendix. Future historians will thank you! But that makes it all the more desirable/possible that the main body of the Report be concise. Put all the extra stuff — Maud’s charge to the Committee, the list of groups met with — in the appendix.

5) How does a well-written report start?

That is from the Self-Study. I hope that the authors of the forthcoming “statement on expression and inclusion” can be as eloquent.

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Democratic Debates

Some of our commentators like to discuss politics. If you have views of the Democratic Debates this past week, share them with us.

My concern, as always, is: How do we get more Ephs in (or closer to) the Presidency.

There are (only?) two major Eph connections among the 20 candidates in the debates. First, Beto O’Rourke is married to Amy Sanders O’Rourke ’03. Second, Cory Booker is an actual (honorary) Eph, having been awarded a degree in 2011. Both are in serious trouble, with a less than 7% chance (combined) of winning the nomination, according to the betting markets.

Are there other Eph connections to the other candidates? Family? Advisers?

What advice to our readers have for O’Rourke and Booker?

Booker’s best hope is to get most of the African-American vote in South Carolina. Kamala Harris is his main obstacle. He should attack her forcefully in the next debate (assuming they are on the same stage, and even if they are not).

My advice: Pick a fight over whether or not affirmative action (and reparations) should be restricted to #ADOS — American Descendants of Slaves. Should a recent immigrant from Nigeria — or the daughter of an immigrant from Jamaica — be eligible for the same benefits as someone whose ancestors were enslaved in the US?

I bet the vast majority of South Carolina African-Americans (and whites?!) think not . . .

Beto’s best bet is . . . uh . . . drop out and run for the Senate?

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Invitation Mystery

Charles Osgood invited Agnes Crossman to the 1904 Williams Commencement.

Are you an aspiring fiction writer? Craft the story of Charles and Agnes. We could serialize at EphBlog. Surely you recall the first book which started out as an EphBlog post series 15 years ago!

Which events from that graduation celebration should Maud Mandel bring back?

Let’s start by writing “base ball” instead of “baseball.”

By the way, there is a great Williams senior thesis to be written about the Cuban Giants and their time in Williamstown. Who will write it?

[Thanks to a family friend for passing this along.]

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Sawicki Report, 5

President Maud Mandel has accepted the “recommendations in full” from the final report (pdf) of the Ad Hoc Committee on Inquiry and Inclusion, chaired by Professor Jana Sawicki. Consistent with our prediction from November and following the advice we laid out in February, academic freedom has returned to Williams. See here, here, here and here for related EphBlog discussions. Maud Mandel has now cleaned up Adam Falk’s legacy. Let’s discuss! Day 5.

This isn’t over until John Derbyshire speaks at Williams.

Consider this a public service message to the Williams administration. I, and the thousands (?) of other Ephs who value academic freedom and “uncomfortable learning” are pleased that Mandel has fixed Falk’s failure. But we are concerned. Has Williams really turned the corner on this disaster? Is the College really committed to this old/new policy? We hope so. But we can’t be sure until the policy is tested, until John Derbyshire, or someone just as “extreme” comes to Williams.

Why? Because I don’t want to fight this battle again in five or ten years. I want to ensure the supremacy of academic freedom at Williams for a generation. Some smart observers, like abl, believe that insisting on Derbyshire’s return is more likely than not to hurt the cause of academic freedom at Williams. Perhaps. But I have a more Marine Corps view of the world . . .

John Derbyshire speaking at Williams will shut down the speaker-banners for years. If Derbyshire can come to Williams — and somehow the College continues to thrive — then there is no reason why person X can’t come.

Given that fact — that Derbyshire is coming, one way or another — what should Williams do? Invite him, of course! It is much better that Derbyshire’s speech be organized (and controlled) by Williams than that it occur as a half-assed student-run disaster. There are many options:

1) Invite Derbyshire to give a stand-alone speech, ideally the same speech he was planning to give three years ago. (Derbyshire’s opinions about immigration are among his least problematic.)

2) Arrange a debate, perhaps using the format of the old Williams College Debate Union, between Derbyshire and a member of the Williams faculty, each partnered with a student. If Williams is smart, it would make the topic of the debate be something like: Trump should be re-elected. This will focus the discussion on topics on which Derbyshire’s opinions are positively mainstream. (A majority of white Americans will probably vote for Trump.)

3) Schedule a week-long conference on a broad topic, like “American Populism,” perhaps looking to Darel Paul’s course PSCI 360 Right-Wing Populism for guidance on topics and speakers. Derbyshire would speak, but he would just be one voice among many. There would be just as many critics of populism as supporters.

Again, it is not for me to pick the format. My only promise is that Derbyshire is coming to Williams, one way or the other. Better that the College embrace this latest bit of uncomfortable learning. Make Gaudino proud!

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