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Wood ’18 and Lawrence ’77 Testify to Senate, 1

Williams student Zachary Wood ’18 testified (pdf) to the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing: “Free Speech 101: The Assault on the First Amendment on College Campuses.” (Also testifying (pdf) was former Brandeis President Frederick Lawrence ’77.) Let’s spend two weeks on this topic. Today is Day 1.

congress

Wood is on the left.

1) Will the College acknowledge this event? You can be certain that if Wood/Lawrence were testifying about climate change or some other Williams-approved topic, we would be getting tweets, updates in Eph Notes and even a big spread in the next issue of the Williams Magazine. So far, however, it is internet-silence from Williams. This is petty and embarrassing. Can’t we do better than tweets about Take Your Dog to Work Day? (Not that there is anything wrong with that!) Is Williams an intellectual institution or a finishing school?

2) Who is making the decision to ignore Wood’s and Lawrence’s testimonies? I have a great deal of faith in Director of Media Relations Mary Dettloff and Chief Communications Officer Jim Reisch. I bet that they would not object to at least noting this event. Is my faith misplaced? Has someone else told them to keep silent? Or are they (mistakenly?) assuming that Adam Falk would not want Williams to, officially, acknowledge the event?

3) When was the last time a Williams student testified to Congress? When was the last time two Ephs were testifying at the same hearing? I have no idea! This search does not seem to be what I am looking for. Can Eph historians help us out?

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Prestigious Institutions Like Harvard or Stanford or Williams

Reader WA points out this absurd 2014 article by William Deresiewicz about problems in elite education.

When I speak of elite education, I mean prestigious institutions like Harvard or Stanford or Williams as well as the larger universe of second-tier selective schools, but I also mean everything that leads up to and away from them—the private and affluent public high schools; the ever-growing industry of tutors and consultants and test-prep courses; the admissions process itself, squatting like a dragon at the entrance to adulthood; the brand-name graduate schools and employment opportunities that come after the B.A.; and the parents and communities, largely upper-middle class, who push their children into the maw of this machine. In short, our entire system of elite education.

Good stuff! Every time Williams is mentioned in the same sentence as truly elite institutions like Harvard and Stanford, the better it is for the College’s brand.

The rest of the article, sadly, is mostly garbage.

Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.

1) Deresiewicz provides no evidence that non-elite education does a better job at these tasks. Do UMASS and Purdue have an excellent track record of creating “intellectual curiosity?” Hah! It would be one thing if he argued that all of higher education was broken. That might even be true. But to claim that elite is broken, while the third tier is not, is absurd.

2) Deresiewicz provides no evidence that elite education does a worst job at these tasks today than it did 10, 30, 50 or 100 years ago. Every graduating class at Williams has featured Ephs with insatiable intellectual curiosity and others less so blessed (or cursed). You don’t think there were any Ephs in the 1950’s who were “anxious, timid, and lost?” Hah!

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Eph Henley Log

Thanks to EphSports for pointing out this blog devoted to the men’s crew team trip to the Henley Royal Regatta. Good stuff!

1) If we have any readers on this trip, please let us know. EphBlog would love to cross-post your material.

2) How do the finances of this trip work? I assume that the College is not paying for the whole thing . . .

3) I especially like the reference to the “Williams American Expeditionary Force.” Extra credit if they can work in a reference to the two most (?) famous Eph members of that force: Charles White Whittlesey and Williams Bradford Turner.

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Come Hither

From The Weekly Standard:

So there I am Tuesday morning, wheezing away on my exercise bike, trying to stay alert to telltale signs of the inevitable coronary thrombosis, when, for the first time in many, many years, I switch on the TV to watch Morning Joe.

And what am I greeted with? Not Morning Joe’s handsome mug (I think it was Don Imus who first noticed Morning Joe’s eerie resemblance to the banjo-playing boy in Deliverance). Not Mika’s permafrost hairdo or that come-hither body language.

No. Instead I am greeted by a video of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. They were shown at a cabinet meeting with President Trump the day before. Each of them, in brief remarks, was saying nice things about the boss. Really nice things, right in front of him.

Chao explained that when Trump visited her eyesore of an office building the week before, “hundreds and hundreds of people were just so thrilled.” Mnuchin said, “It was a great honor traveling with you … the last year and an even greater honor to be here serving in your cabinet.” Priebus laid it on with a trowel: “We thank you for the opportunity and the blessing … to serve your agenda.”

After this the camera went to Morning Joe and Mika back in the studio, sitting in what we were to take as stunned silence.

“Whoa,” said Morning Joe. “That was some sad stuff.”

“That was sick,” said Mika. “Am I allowed to say that?”

Yes, you are, Mika.

1) Do 50 year old Williams women like it or not like it if they are still perceived as having the ability to pull off a “come hither” look? Asking for a friend.

2) Read the whole article. Fake news at its finest!

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Do Your Job

From the Eagle:

Williams College President Adam Falk has joined Williams College with hundreds of other entities committing to the Paris climate accords following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the international agreement to cut carbon emissions.

Falk signed on to the “We Are Still In” statement last week, joining more than 1,200 governors, mayors, businesses, investors and higher education leaders from across the U.S. who declared their intent to continue to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing carbon emissions.

The “We Are Still In” statement calls the Trump administration’s announcement to withdraw from the Paris agreement one that “undermines a key pillar in the fight against climate change [and a move which is] out of step with what is happening in the United States.”

The statement can be found at www.wearestillin.com.

Falk said Williams’ commitment to addressing climate change, outlined in a set of initiatives developed and approved by the board of trustees in 2015, will continue as the campus community works toward achieving sustainable carbon neutrality by the end of 2020.

1) Instead of wasting time with virtue signalling, why doesn’t Falk do his job? Consider the example of the scores of students forced out of data sciency courses like STAT 201 and CSCI 135. These are great courses. But, precisely because of their quality and popularity, enrollment has been capped. It would be easy for Falk to do something about this, to authorize these departments to hire a visiting assistant professor or two to offer a few extra sections. The fact that he has failed to do so is evidence that he is prioritizing the wrong things as Williams president.

2) Is there any actual substance to this pledge? From the press release: “The landmark agreement succeeded where past attempts failed because it allowed each country to set its own emission reduction targets and adopt its own strategies for reaching them.” In other words, Williams could participate in this agreement even if it planned on doubling its emissions.

3) Is there a realistic plan for Williams to attain “carbon neutrality by the end of 2020?” Color me skeptical! Williams feeds and houses 2,000 people. That takes a lot of carbon! Anyone have links to the plan?

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Old Guard Versus Greylocks

greylocks

Back in the day, reunion attendees from the post 50th class were known as the “Old Guard.” (See here for relevant links.) Now, the terminology is “Greylocks.” First, who decided in this change and/or came up with the name? (I think the name is clever.) Second, why the change? Perhaps the “old guard” terminology was too military and/or masculine? Third, do readers agree with the change? (I am indifferent.)

For future historians: here (pdf) is a copy of the Reunion Schedule. Are there many more organized events than there were 10 years ago? Seems that way. Nothing wrong with that! The more fun events at reunion, the better.

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Swain ’01 to Southern California University

A lovely bit of trolling from our friends at EphSports:

swain

Sad to see Allison Swain ’01 leave. First, alumni coaches are better than non-alumni coaches. Second, she seems liked by her players and her teams have been more successful than any other team at Williams over the last decade. Third, I always appreciated Swain’s efforts to keep alive the memory of her Williams teammate, Lindsay Morehouse ’00. Let’s hope those efforts continue under Swain’s successor.

The “trolling” mentioned above refers, of course, to the claim that Swain is headed to “Southern California University.” In fact, she is going to the University of Southern California, i.e., USC!

Side note: Kudos to Athletic Director Lisa Melendy for selecting Swain. The more young, alumni coaches that Williams hires, the better, all the more so if the hire represents their first head coaching position.

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Falk:Derbyshire :: Hopkins:Emerson

“D” is the answer to our SAT analogy question:

FALK:DERBYSHIRE ::

A. Baxter:?
B. Chadler:?
C: Garfield:?
D. Hopkins:Emerson
E. Sawyer:?

Adam Falk banned John Derbyshire just as Mark Hopkins banned Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Ralph_Waldo_Emerson_ca1857 My first hint came from Steve Satullo’s ’69 excellent website devoted to the history of libraries at Williams.

The [Adelphic] Union also brought Ralph Waldo Emerson to Williamstown for a lecture, but he was entirely too radical for the [Mark] Hopkins administration and was not allowed to lecture on campus, but rather in the town’s Methodist church.

There is a great senior thesis to be written about the conflict between the 19th century Congregationalists who controlled Williams and the transcendentalists who scoffed at them. Who will write it it?

Mark Hopkins is, obviously, the most famous Williams president — or he is, at least, the one that most alumni can name. Satullo’s citation of the conflict between Emerson and Hopkins takes us back to Mark Hopkins and the Log by Fred Rudolph ’39. Ace College Archivist Katie Nash kindly provided these excerpts: pdf and pdf.

Will Ephs 150 years from now view Adam Falk’s decision to ban John Derbyshire from campus the same way that we view Mark Hopkin’s decision to ban Ralph Waldo Emerson?

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Morning of Comey

Wonderful poetry from Arjun Narayan ’10:

comey

Consider this your open thread for Comey-related discussion. Have at it!

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Falk:Derbyshire :: ?:? Part 2

Yesterday, we asked the question: When was the last time that a Williams president banned a speaker from campus? No one has given us the right (?) answer yet. Adam Falk’s decision to ban John Derbsyhire in February 2016 must have an historical parallel. What is it? Consider this SAT analogy question:

FALK:DERBYSHIRE ::

A. Baxter:?
B. Chadler:?
C: Garfield:?
D. Hopkins:?
E. Sawyer:?

I have provided some Williams presidents, in alphabetical order, as options. My reasoning:

A. Phinney Baxter ’14 was president during World War II and the worst parts of the Cold War. Might he have banned someone? Sure! But Baxter was, perhaps more than any other Williams president, a defender of free speech. From the Harvard Crimson of 1949:

“Like most if not all of my other colleagues on the Williams faculty,” Williams College President James Phinney Baxter, 3rd, wrote in an article for his school’s May, 1949, Alumni Review number, “I support the Marshall Plan, the Atlantic Pact, and the furnishing of military supplies to our fellow signatories.”

But the point of Baxter’s article was not to express his own views on foreign policy. It was to defend the right of Frederick L. Schuman, a member of the Williams faculty, to expound differing opinions.

Baxter noted that Schuman had been “severely criticized by a number of alumni for speeches critical of the current foreign policy of the United States.”

The college head wrote that Schuman had attacked the policies of both America and Russia, that he was an advocate “of a stronger form of international government than the United Nations,” and that he had “freely criticized the Communists for many years.”


For Free Debate

Baxter said Schuman should be as free to express himself as those who held the majority viewpoint.

Exactly right.

B. John Chandler was president during the dawn of the PC-era and had to contend with many racially-charged debates, including South African Divestment and affirmative action. The election of Reagan in 1980 was, from the point of view of faculty/student opinion, almost as surprising/shocking/disgusting as Trump’s election 36 years later.

C. Harry Garfield served as president from 1908 through 1934. There were non-trivial restrictions on free speech during World War I, and it would not be surprising to see this sentiment expressed at Williams.

D. Hopkins. I am cheating a bit with this one since Williams had two presidents named Hopkins: Mark and Henry (his son). They served for a combined 42 years. Surely, at some point, a proposed speaker was so offensive as to require banning from campus . . .

E. Jack Sawyer ’39 is almost uniformly regarded as the best Williams president of the last 100 years. But not everyone is perfect! He served from 1961 — 1973, the height of campus turmoil over civil rights and the Vietnam War. It sure must have been tempting to shut down debate on occasion! Sawyer, who served in the OSS — the forerunner to the CIA — during World War II must have felt some frustration at the campus snowflakes of his era . . .

Any guesses as to the correct answer?

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Falk:Derbyshire :: ?:? Part 1

Who remembers the analogy questions from the old SAT Verbal?

sat

Recall Adam Falk’s February 2016 decision to ban John Derbyshire from speaking at Williams. When was the last time that a Williams president banned someone from speaking on campus? In other words, we need the answer to the following analogy:

FALK:DERBYSHIRE :: ?:?

Any guesses from our readers? It has taken us more than a year to answer this question and, even now, I am not sure if we have it correct.

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Women’s Crew Wins* Nationals

From New Jersey:

The Williams College women’s V1 boat made a statement today out racing top-seeded Bates to the finish line to earn the title of The Fastest Crew in DIII, but Bates won the NCAA team title with the combined scores of its V1 and V2 boats, edging the Ephs by one point: 39-38.

“The group of 22-23 rowers that was here to compete is the result of the entire 38-member team we have that pushed each other throughout the season to be at our best, so I want to thank those where were not here,” [Williams Coach Kate] Maloney said. “And of course I want to thank our assistant coaches, our support staff, our trainers, and our parents for a great year. I’m just so proud of the 2016-17 Williams program.”

1) Congrats to Coach Maloney and her team on an impressive performance. I believe (clarifications welcome) that women’s crew gets very little support from Admissions each year. (Perhaps one tip a year? Perhaps only a protect or two?) It is quite likely that the academic performance of the women’s crew team as whole is indistinguishable from that of the rest of the women at Williams. And that is as it should be.

2) I love that there are 38 students on the team. Participation should be the highest value in Williams athletics. It is much better to have a crew team with 38 committed students who have an amazing experience (but who don’t win national championships) than to have a team of 15 that does. Kudos to Coach Maloney for being so welcoming to students who will never be good enough to row in a national championship. Their athletic experiences at Williams are every bit as important as those of the members of the V1 boat.

3) It is a shame that participation is not as valued as it used to be at Williams. Back in the day, there was a freshmen basketball team. There is not one now, despite the fact that there are a score or more of freshmen each year who played basketball in high school but who are not good enough to play for Coach App. Why not a team for them?

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1,200 Academic Rating 2s

President Falk is not as transparent as former President Schapiro was about admissions statistics, but he does, on occasion, provide some interesting details. Mary Dettloff kindly provided this background on a Falk speech from several years ago.

In 2013, the number of applicants with an AR2 rating was 1,269. I am confirming that number for you since Adam did mention it at a private, not public, event that you attended. The information for the Class of 2021, however, is not information we have to report publicly anywhere, so I will not be providing that information.

Fair enough! And thanks, as always, to Mary for all her help with our endless questions.

1) “AR2″ — which is the insider abbreviation for “Academic Rating 2″ — is a standard designation in the ranking system that the Admissions Department uses. A reminder:

  • Academic 1: at top or close to top of HS class / A record / exceptional academic program / 1520 – 1600 composite SAT I score;
  • Academic 2: top 5% of HS class / mostly A record / extremely demanding academic program / 1450 – 1520 composite SAT I score;
  • Academic 3: top 10% of HS class / many A grades / very demanding academic program / 1390 – 1450 composite SAT I score;
  • Academic 4: top 15% of HS class / A – B record / very demanding academic program / 1310 – 1400 composite SAT I score;

2) We know from the 2005 Alumni Review article that any applicant without a “hook” [1] is rejected if their Academic Rating is below a 2 — that is why the raw number of AR2s is so important. Williams could fill its entire class with AR1s and AR2s! [2]

3) Recall the details from the latest Common Data Set (pdf):

scores

It is a coincidence (?) that the 1450 combined math/verbal SAT average marks the cut off for AR2. But it sure is convenient! Speaking very broadly, half of every Williams class is admitted based on their academic ambition/talent/conscientiousness. The other half would not have been admitted were it not for their race/income/athleticism.

4) If it were me, I would place a lot more emphasis on academics and a lot less on everything else. What would Williams look like if we only admitted AR2s and above? Assume that we still cared about race/income/athletics. That is, we still give preference to AR2 hockey players over AR1 non-hockey players. What would our racial numbers look like? How well would our sports teams do?

[1] Almost all hooks are involve race/income/athletics. There are 66 athletic “tips” who would not have been admitted were it not for a nod from a Williams coach, and another 30 or so “protects” whose chances of admissions were only 50/50. Williams, like all elite schools, has huge problems finding enough qualified black/Hispanic applicants, and so is happy to take plenty who are AR3 or 4. Williams, especially via Questbridge, seeks applicants from poor families. (And the Development Office creates spots for (how many?) children of big donors.)

[2] Of course, it is hard to know for certain that this is true. We would need to know two other pieces of information: How many AR1 applicants are there and how well Williams yields among AR1s and 2s? Contrary opinions are welcome, but my strong sense is that, with so many AR2s (hundreds of whom Williams rejects outright), Williams could easily fill a class in which every student scored above 1450 in math/verbal SAT (with high school grades to match).

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Cultural Hub

From the Wall Street Journal:

When it opens, it will be the first destination hotel in this once-great manufacturing town. But visionary ideas have been percolating in North Adams since the mid-’80s, when plans emerged to renovate a 28-building industrial campus, the former Sprague Electric capacitor plant—at one time the city’s biggest employer—into a showcase for cutting-edge art. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (or Mass MoCA), which opened there in 1999 after a long gestation, has helped transform the city. “We saw the [plant] closing, the desperation in the community,” says North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright. “And we all admit one thing, resoundingly: Where the hell would we be if it were not for Mass MoCA?”

A slew of projects, starting to roll in this summer with the mayor’s support, promises a leap forward, further changing North Adams into a destination for art and performance, accommodation and food. It may be a turning point for a city that’s dealing with population depletion, high unemployment and addiction rates and empty storefronts that starkly contrast with the well-heeled Williamstown, home to Williams College, right next door.

Read the whole thing. There is a great senior thesis to be written about the rise of North Adams as a cultural destination. Who will write it?

And there’s much more in the pipeline for North Adams. Though clearly ambitious, the ventures under construction this summer are a fraction of the city’s proposed master plan, a grand scheme to build a “cultural corridor” that’s currently outlined in blueprints and feasibility studies, featuring at least four new museums along with a distillery and “art hotel,” both designed by Jean Nouvel. It’s all the brainchild of Thomas Krens, who hatched the original idea for Mass MoCA before moving to New York in 1988 to run the Guggenheim for almost 20 years.

Krens, who has a home in neighboring Williamstown, would not discuss details of his official return to the Berkshires, but they’re easy to discover by talking to local power players. His Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum, a quirky 34,000-square-foot institution featuring model trains zipping by landmark buildings by architects such as Frank Gehry, is most likely to break ground first, followed by the Global Contemporary Art Museum, a motorcycle museum and a museum of time. If even a portion of the plan gets off the ground, it may be as significant for the area as Mass MoCA’s opening 18 years ago. “We’re one attraction away,” says Mayor Alcombright, “from being a weeklong place to be.”

Is there an alum who has had more of an impact on the local area than Krens? If so, who?

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Ephs Who Have Gone Before

foxWho is this Eph?

He is Myles Crosby Fox ’40.

Myles will not be in Williamstown to celebrate reunion with the Old Guard in two weeks, for he has passed away. He leaves behind no wife, no children nor grandchildren. His last glimpse of Williams was on graduation day 77 years ago. Who among the sons and daughters of Ephraim even remembers his name?

I saw the mountains of Williams
As I was passing by,
The purple mountains of Williams
Against the pearl-gray sky.
My heart was with the Williams men
Who went abroad to die.

Fox was, in many ways, an Eph of both his time and ours. He was a Junior Advisor and captain of the soccer team. He served as treasurer in the Student Activities Council, forerunner to today’s College Council. He was a Gargoyle and secretary of his class.

gargoyle

Fox lived in Wood House. Are you the student who just moved out of the room that Fox vacated all those years ago? Are you an Eph who trod the same walkways around campus as Fox? We all walk in his footsteps.

The years go fast in Williams,
The golden years and gay,
The hoary Colleges look down
On careless boys at play.
But when the bugles sounded war
They put their games away.

Fox wrote letters to his class secretary, letters just like those that you or I might write.

The last issue of the Review has put me up to date on my civilized affairs. I am enclosing the only other information I have received in the form of a letter from Mr. Dodd. Among my last batch of mail was notice of the class insurance premium, and if you think it will prove an incentive to any of my classmates you may add under the next batch of Class Notes my hearty endorsement of the insurance fund, the fact that even with a military salary I am still square with the Mutual Company, and my hope that classmates of ’40 will keep the ball rolling so that in the future, purple and gold jerseys will be rolling a pigskin across whitewash lines.

Seven decades later, the pigskin is still rolling.

Fox was as familiar as your freshman roommate and as distant as the photos of Williams athletes from years gone by that line the walls of Chandler Gym. He was every Eph.

They left the peaceful valley,
The soccer-field, the quad,
The shaven lawns of Williams,
To seek a bloody sod—
They gave their merry youth away
For country and for God.

Fox was killed in August 1942, fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific. He was a First Lieutenant in the Marine Corps and served in a Marine Raider battalion.

Fox’s citation for the Navy Cross reads:

For extraordinary heroism while attached to a Marine Raider Battalion during the seizure of Tulagi, Solomon Islands, on the night of 7-8 August 1942. When a hostile counter-attack threatened to penetrate the battalion line between two companies, 1st Lt. Fox, although mortally wounded, personally directed the deployment of personnel to cover the gap. As a result of great personal valor and skilled tactics, the enemy suffered heavy losses and their attack repulsed. 1st Lt. Fox, by his devotion to duty, upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the defense of his country.

How to describe a night battle against attacking Japanese among the islands of the South Pacific in August 1942?

Darkness, madness and death.

On Memorial Day, America honors soldiers like Fox who have died in the service of their country. For many years, no Eph had made the ultimate sacrifice. That string of good fortune ended with the death in combat of First Lieutenant Nate Krissoff ’03, USMC on December 9, 2006 in Iraq. From Ephraim Williams through Myles Fox to Nate Krissoff, the roll call of Williams dead echoes through the pages of our history.

With luck, other military Ephs like Dick Pregent ’76, Bill Couch ’79, Peter May ’79, Jeff Castiglione ’07, Bunge Cooke ’98, Paul Danielson ’88, Kathy Sharpe Jones ’79, Lee Kindlon ’98, Dan Ornelas ’98, Zack Pace ’98, JR Rahill ’88, Jerry Rizzo ’87, Dan Rooney ’95 and Brad Shirley ’07 will survive this war. It would be more than enough to celebrate their service on Veterans’ Day.

Those interested in descriptions of Marine combat in the South Pacific during World War II might start with Battle Cry by Leon Uris or Goodby, Darkness by William Manchester. The Warriors by J. Glenn Gray provides a fascinating introduction to men and warfare. Don’t miss the HBO miniseries The Pacific, from which the battle scene above is taken. Fox died two weeks before the Marines on Guadalcanal faced the Japanese at the Battle of the Tenaru.

A Navy destroyer was named after Fox. He is the only Eph ever to be so honored. The men who manned that destroyer collected a surprising amount of information about him. It all seems both as long ago as Ephraim Williams’s service to the King and as recent as the letters from Felipe Perez ’99 and Joel Iams ’01.

God rest you, happy gentlemen,
Who laid your good lives down,
Who took the khaki and the gun
Instead of cap and gown.
God bring you to a fairer place
Than even Williamstown.

Note: As long as there is an EphBlog, there will be a Memorial Day entry, a tribute to those who have gone before. Apologies to Winifred M. Letts for bowdlerizing her poem, “The Spires of Oxford.”

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Graduation Live-Stream?

Harvard live-streams its graduation.

live

Does Williams? We should! Even just putting the same video feed that they pipe to Bronfman on YouTube would be useful.

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Trustee Web Page III

Our readers wanted more discussion of the new Trustee web page and the documents linked thereto. Day 3.

Again, kudos to the Trustees for transparency! This is a welcome change from the way Williams has been run in the past. Perhaps the most timely document is the notes from the Board Meeting Report from April (pdf).

1) To the extent that the Board has been creating documents like this for the last several years (decades?), it should make them public now. The more that Ephs see how well-run Williams is, the more trust we will have in the people who run it. I realize that the actual meeting notes can include a variety of material — especially the comments made on sensitive comments by names trustees — that should remain secret for years. That is OK! But generic overviews of who presented what can be made public now.

2) There are 15 items in the report. I could spend a day on each of them! Should I? Are there any in particular that people are interested in? Here is an example:

The board approved the remarketing of $50.5M of existing college debt, and the issuance of up to $60M in new debt to fund a number of capital projects.

The College’s debt load is perhaps the single financial I am least qualified to opine on. First, my understanding is that we can’t issue new debt unless it is going to fund new projects. Is Williams really gearing up to spend an additional $60 million? Is that all/mostly the Bronfman replacement? Second, can someone explain what “remarketing” is? This discussion seems relevant but it sure would be nice if someone were to walk through the details. Third, I continue to believe that the College has enough debt right now. Of course, I have been singing that song for 6 years. Levering up the endowment has worked marvelously well over that time period. What could go wrong?

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Trustee Web Page II

Our readers wanted more discussion of the new Trustee web page and the documents linked thereto. Day 2.

The most substantive page is News from the Board, a collection of both important documents (like the September 2015 Statement by the Board of Trustees and President Adam F. Falk on the College’s Role in Addressing Climate Change) and puff pieces (like this 2016 welcome to new board members).

1) Again, kudos! It is a great idea to bring together all the writings by/about trustees in a single location.

2) Why not work with ace College Archivist Katie Nash to “backfill” this page with some Williams history? What were the disputes that trustees wrote about 10, 20 and even 50 years ago?

3) I have yet to spend a week (or two!) on the Climate Change statement. Should I?

4) The page is somewhat incomplete (on purpose?) because it does not include Board Chair Mike Eisensen’s ’77 recent piece in the Record. Anything written in the Record (or other Williams publication) by a trustee — even if it is not an “official” statement from the entire Board — ought to be included here.

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Trustee Web Page I

Our readers wanted more discussion of the new Trustee web page and the documents linked thereto. Day 1.

1) Kudos to the trustees (and senior administrators at Williams) for this effort! The more transparency at Williams the better. Any quibbles that I express below are minor in the context of my overall praise for this effort.

2) Kudos on making the meeting dates public. Prior to this, the College made it positively difficult to figure out when the trustees would be in town. There was no reason for such secrecy. (There are generally four meetings a year, almost always in October, January, April and June. One of the meetings sometimes occurs off-campus, but I don’t think (comments welcome!) that this is common.)

3) Kudos for listing trustee emeriti. Historians of Williams thank you for this information! I especially liked learning about the exact dates of service for Board Chairs:

Preston S. Parish ’41 (April 1966 – June 1988; Chair of Board 1982-1988)
Peter S. Willmott ’59 (October 1983 – June 1998; Chair of Board 1988-1998)
Raymond F. Henze III ’74 (July 1987 – June 2002; Chair of Board 1998-2002)
Robert I. Lipp ’60 (July 1999 – June 2008; Chair of Board 2002-2008)
Gregory M. Avis ’80 (July 2002 – June 2014; Chair of Board 2008-2014)

There is a great senior thesis to be written about these men, and the decisions they made which helped to shape the Williams of today. For example, I have heard interesting rumors of the role that Ray Henze played in bringing Hank Payne to Williams . . .

4) I hope that the Executive Committee of the Society of Alumni — the main mechanism by which most alumni can try to influence Williams policy — follows the Trustees’ lead and increases their own transparency. When are their meetings, for example?

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Stiff Beard in Lieu

Professor Roberts tweeted with regard to a recent protest about removing a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee:

torches

Fortunately (?), there is a deeper Williams connection.
A Nationalist (who happens to be White) tweeted Eph quotations about the event: William Lowndes Yancey, non-graduate of the class of 1833.

yancey

Should we spend a week on the biography of Yancey, from which this is taken?

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Change First Days to First Month

For decades, the College has sought, somewhat unsuccessfully, to mold student character and to improve the campus community. The College would prefer that students drink less (and especially less to excess); that students be more intellectual, spending more time outside of class on great books and less time on Netflix; that students be kinder to each other, especially to those most outside the mainstream of College life; that students be more diverse in their friend groups, less likely to only associate with peers that are “like” them; and that students be more involved in the community, more likely to volunteer at the local elementary school or retirement home. How can the College make its students more sober, intellectual, kind, ecumenical and charitable (than they already are)? Simple: Expand the First Days program into First Month, and focus that month on character development and community commitment.

Shaping character and nurturing community are difficult problems, so we should look for inspiration to those with a track record of success. The most relevant examples are military and religious organizations like the Marine Corps and the Mormon Church. What lessons do they have for us?

First: Start early. The reason that service in the Marine Corps begins with a 13-week boot camp is that the best time to change the perceptions of 18-year-olds is at the start of their enlistments. In boot camp, Marine recruits are cut off from the world they knew before, presented with a new set of community standards for what is best and challenged to live up to those standards. The College will have much more success in changing the values and choices of first-years in August than it ever will in altering those of juniors and seniors.

Second: Separate. Many new Ephs drank too much in high school. We want them to (want to) drink less at the College. We need to distance them from their old habits, their old friends and routines. A First Month program, starting in early August, provides just such an opportunity. The reason that Mormons, and most other religious groups, favor retreats is that a departure from the secular allows the sacred to flourish. During First Month, athletes won’t practice with their sports teams, they will play pick-up games with their classmates. The first and most important commitment that new Ephs make is to their class. They are purple first.

Consider how messed up our current system is. The 5 or so first years recruited to play women’s soccer arrive a week or more ahead of their classmates. They already know each other, and their new teammates, via the recruitment process. They spend a week with each other (and the rest of the team), all day, every day. They make friends. Is it any wonder that there is an athlete/non-athlete divide at Williams, when, from Day One, athletes are segregated from the rest of their class? The same dynamics are at work with other programs (Windows on Williams Williams College Summer Science) — well-intentioned though they may be.

Assume that you are a bad person and you want Williams student to self-segregate by astrological sign. You want all the, say, Geminis, to hang out together, take the same classes, form Gemini-only rooming groups and so on. This is hard to do because Williams students don’t like to be bossed around.

Solution: Invite all the Gemini members of the class of 2021 to five weeks of special Gemini-only activities at Williams this summer. Do not invite non-Geminis.

The natural result is that these Geminis, who may have had nothing in common besides their astrological sign, will bond. Cliques form, friendships grow and romance blooms. These Geminis will grow to like and trust each other. When school starts in September, they will already have made friends with each other. They will continue to seek each other out, share meals with each other, perhaps take classes together. It won’t be that they have anything against their non-Gemini entrymates who they are meeting for the first time. It is just that they will have already found friends to hang out with.

I am not arguing that Williams cancel the Summer Science/Humanities programs or that athletes not arrive early on campus, although perhaps we should. I just want the entire First Year class to arrive together, to be together, to do things together, before various centrifugal forces come into play.

Third: Introduce. Every student in each of the first-year dorms will have at least one meal with each resident of his dorm. All students will learn the names of at least half of their classmates by playing all the wonderfully awkward name-learning games common to religious retreats. The more that students are introduced to their classmates, slowly and repeatedly, over many hours, days and weeks, the less likely that any individual is to end up isolated from the College and detached from the Ephs around him. For most Ephs, the College community is as tight-knit as it could be. They always have someone to sit with when they go to the dining hall on their own. But for hundreds of students, often students from non-traditional backgrounds or with non-mainstream interests, the College fails. Rescuing those students, enmeshing them completely in a network of friends and friendly acquaintances, would change their experience at the College from bearable to wonderful.

Fourth: Inspire. The best way to convince teenagers that Behavior X is cool is to surround them with slightly older Ephs whom they admire and who, by word and deed, illustrate that X is cool. The fewer sports captains and Junior Advisors (JAs) who are heavy drinkers, the fewer first-years who will follow in their footsteps. During First Month, every activity is designed to model the behavior that we want to see more of among students at the College. On Day Two, everyone reads one of Plato’s dialogues and discusses it at lunch and dinner at a small table with a faculty member. On Day Six, everyone spends a day on community service – anything from cleaning up trash along the banks of the Green River to talking with residents at Sweetwood. On Day 10, everyone hikes up Pine Cobble. All of these events are led by the very best people – students, faculty, staff and local residents – at the College.

Fifth: Integrate. First-years come from many different backgrounds. The best way to make these new Ephs comfortable with each other is to have them spend as much time with each other as possible, especially in situations that make their differences less important than their commonalities. It is impossible to stereotype members of Group Z once you have shared a tent with one on a WOOLF trip. It is difficult to be snotty to your classmates when you sounded just as ridiculous as they did while all learning “The Mountains” together.

Doesn’t much of this happen during First Days already? Of course! But not nearly enough. My suggestion: Expand the current First Days to two weeks this August. If, for some reason, the change fails, then we can always revert back to the traditional format. But if the College is really serious about making its students more sober, intellectual, kind, ecumenical and charitable, then it ought to devote the month of August during their first years to that project.

[Original version here.]

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Provost Documents

Provost Dukes Love is, officially, EphBlog’s favorite senior member of the Williams Administration. (Dean Dave will always be our favorite administrator.) Dukes is (almost?) as committed to transparency as we are!

1) Recall his decision to make public all historical versions of the Common Data Set.

2) Having considered my question, he made public his presentation materials (pdf) from the Alumni Leadership meeting. Well done!

3) He makes other material public, even before we ask! Consider this Reporting on Staffing (pdf).

Any interest in spending a few days going through these materials?

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Amended Complaint

Here is the 3rd Amended Complaint for the Safety Dance sexual assault case.

1) If you are interested in a week-long review, please let me know! As best I can tell, reader interest is lagging . . .

2) Summary: Male Williams student engages in two year long sexual relationship with female student-then-employee. In middle of that relationship, it is alleged that the two had sex 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.

It is a hard case to summarize! If anyone has a better version, leave it in the comments so that I can use it going forward.

3) I have not read the whole Complaint. (What do our readers think?) But it still seems sloppy to me, e.g.,

fulltime

It is impossible (?) to be a “full-time” student at Williams for 5 years. And there is no reason for Rossi, Doe’s attorney, to claim otherwise! Isn’t it the case that Doe was thrown out of Williams for a semester (if not a full year) because of a prior sexual assault case? And, during that time, he was not, I think, a student at Williams. (Although maybe you are still, officially, a Williams student even if you are currently away?)

4) Why won’t the College just give Doe his degree?

purpose

Does anyone disagree? 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?

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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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Etienne ’21 Chooses Williams Over Yale/Princeton

A nice story:

Samori Etienne is a well-rounded student at Columbia High School. He likes most subjects, plays soccer, is president of the Student Council, and is part of the Parnassian Society. He will graduate in a few weeks.

And like approximately 90% of the seniors at CHS, he plans to move on to college after graduation. He spent the better part of the last few weeks considering which school to attend next. And like a growing number of CHS students, Etienne was lucky enough to gain admittance to more than a handful of elite schools. In fact, he got into more than a handful.

These schools include: Amherst College, American University, Boston College, Bowdoin College, Brown University, Columbia University, Franklin & Marshall College, Georgetown University, Haverford College, Princeton University, Rutgers, Seton Hall University, College of New Jersey, Swarthmore College, University of Pennsylvania, Wesleyan College, Williams College and Yale University.

Kudos to Etienne for making such a smart choice.

Williams College was the lucky school he chose.

“They flew me in for two weekends. It was a nice view of what the school is like,” said Etienne. Beyond the students and top notch academics, he said he enjoys “the picturesque campus and the nearby mountains” (Williams is in northwestern Massachusetts, near the Vermont border).

Kudos to Williams for wooing Etienne so assiduously. (Should we credit new Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Liz Creighton ’01 for these new (?) efforts to recruit highly desirable accepted students?)

Williams should devote more resources (and more financial aid) to students who are also accepted by Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford.

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Black/White SAT Scores at Amherst

From page 22 of Race and Class Matters at an Elite College by Amherst professor Elizabeth Aries.

p22

There was more than a 200 point difference (1284 versus 1488) in combined SAT scores between blacks and whites at Amherst. Although this data is a decade old and for Amherst, I believe that the same is true today and at places like Williams. Has anyone heard differently? And, as you would expect, students with lower SAT scores do much worse in Amherst classes:

p155

Interesting stuff! Should we spend a week on other highlights from this book?

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Alumni Funding Dreams

Dylan Dethier’s ’14 amazing article about his attempt to make the PGA included this paragraph:

Before I enrolled in college I spent a year exploring the United States, hoping to learn more about the country through the game. I lived out of my car, played a course in every state and wrote a book about the experience called 18 in America. It did well enough that when I turned pro I had $30k in the bank. Cody, my co-captain at Williams, held a tournament (with dinner and a raffle!) in his hometown to pay for the trip south. We also reached out to former members of the golf team, and a small group of alumni was kind enough to stake us with entry fees for our first six months. As lucky as Cody and I were, we were shorter on resources than most of our peers.

Tell us more! We love hearing stories about alumni supporting recent graduates as they chase their dreams.

And read Dylan’s entire article. It is poignant and beautifully written.

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Williams Insight

Williams Insight is a new student organization. Purpose:

Williams Insight is an online financial publication, in which interested students can submit and publish their liberal arts insights into the economic and financial news.

Good stuff! The more student organizations at Williams, the better. I especially like this:

The objective of the group is first to establish a community of people who are interested in finance and the economy and second to have a place where we can keep up with the market while engaging in productive and concrete analysis.

Williams is a great community, both in Williamstown and in the larger world, but there is so much more we can do to bring together smaller circles of interest. Recall our discussion from a decade (!) ago:

Williams needs EphCOI: Williams-connected Communities of Interest. If on-line communities involving alumni (and students/faculty/staff/parents) are ever going to work, it will only be in the context of shared interests of some sort. My thoughts now are more or less the same as two years ago. The main change is that a blog with new content every weekday is clearly the best way to start. Sign up one staff member to help (read: ensure that at least one new item appears each day) and then find one or two alumni and students to lead the effort. These will be the first authors.

2) Start small. There is no need to create 15 of these from the start. Prove that the concept is a workable one with just one or two sites. I will ensure that an Ephs in Finance blog will succeed. Perhaps Dan Blatt ’85 could be recruited for Ephs in Entertainment. Why not our own Ben Fleming ’04 for Ephs in Journalism? Jen Doleac ’03 for Ephs in Policy? When I took DeWitt Clinton ’98 out to dinner in San Francisco, he was filled with big talk about organizing an Ephs in Technology group of some sort, perhaps with Evan Miller ’05. Recruit them. But first demonstrate the potential (and Williams’s commitment) with a working example.

3) Be open. There must be no logins or passwords (except for authors, obviously). Anyone from anywhere must be able to read these blogs. Anything less will lead to failure. I, for one, certainly wouldn’t bother to participate. There is an argument, perhaps, for keeping some things hidden. For example, no outsider can see my internship posting on the internal OCC site. If it makes the powers-that-be nervous, fine. Hide stuff. Yet, for the most part, this is stupid. Hidden stuff will never be a common point of interest within any EphCOI because most readers won’t, obviously, be able to see it. In addition, I actually hate the fact that I can’t (easily) check to confirm that my listing is correct on the OCC site. There is no real reason for hiding this material. If OCC didn’t want too many outsiders to see it, they could just ask Google to not index that information (DeWitt Clinton can tell you how). But anything that is clearly labeled as “For Williams Students Only” is, obviously, not going to draw a lot of attention from non-Ephs.

4) Be friendly. A blog-savvy person from OIT, like Chris Warren, can help ensure that the blogs have all the standard feeds and options. Older readers will appreciate the ability to easily print things, especially long threads (something that might be nice for EphBlog). Younger participants will insist on RSS and the like. It might even be nice to include options to sign up for a (week) daily or weekly e-mail summary with embedded links. The key is that the EphCOI must make it easy for Ephs to participate in whatever manner they prefer with a minimum of hassle.

Read the rest here. As true today as it was a decade ago.

I especially like the fact that Williams Insight reaches out to alumni.

wi

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Meet David Dudley Field ’25 at Williams Today

image1The weather in Williamstown has been horrible so far in May, cold and rainy. This is the forecast for the next 9 days. Worst May in a generation? I blame global warming!

I will be at the alumni events at Williams today: 3:00 talk with Adam Falk, 4:00 talk with Dukes Love; cocktail party at Faculty Club; dinner at Lasell. I am easily identified by my good looks, winning personality, purple shirt and salmon pants. If you are an EphBlog reader, say Hi!

Any advice on questions to ask? I will probably go with quizzing President Falk about the Derbyshire cancellation and Provost Love about transparency. Perhaps:

President Falk: No event in the last five years has given Williams more of a black eye in the national press than your cancellation last year of a student-invited talk by John Derbyshire, a leading intellectual of the alternative right. Since then, Donald Trump has won the presidency and several leaders of the alternative right — people like Steve Bannon and Jason Miller — have ascended to leadership positions in his administration. I met yesterday with the student leaders of the new Republican Club on campus. They plan on bringing several speakers to campus — including alumni like Mike Needham ’04 and Oren Cass ’05 — Republicans who are often branded as “racists” by their political opponents. In fact, they might even invite me to speak. I agree with some, but not all, of what John Derbyshire has written. Will you also be banning me from speaking on campus?

Provost Love: Your presentation and slide show has been fascinating and informative. However, as a class agent, I receive occasional complaints about transparency at Williams, specifically a disconnect between rich/important insiders and poor/unimportant outsiders. For example, the insiders in this room — all leaders in the alumni fund — get the benefit of learning more about Williams. The outsiders — the 25,000 alumni not invited to this event — don’t. I realize that the College can’t invite everyone to Williamstown for weekends like this. But there is no reason why you could not put the slide show you just shared with us on the Provost web page. Will you? And, if not, why not?

Suggestions welcome!

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Safety Dance Continues III

Let’s discuss the latest Safety Dance court order (pdf). Day 3 of 3.

s3

Other highlights:

1) Good sign for Doe that the Court recognizes the sloppiness/malice of the Williams process. They were out to get Doe from the beginning and, in the end, they got their (former) Eph.

2) New complaint is due May 12. Let’s hope (?) that Rossi, Doe’s attorney, gets her act together and produces a better pleading.

3) Any predictions? I guess (?) that it made sense for the College to fight up until this point on the (realistic?) chance that the case might have been thrown out. But now? Settle the case! Give Doe his degree.

Do other readers think the College should fight? If so, why?

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Does Amherst Lie About Its Admissions Data?

Williams and Swarthmore (and most other liberal arts college) have a meaningful number of students with sub-600 SAT scores. For Williams:

sc3

Amherst (pdf) does not.

sc2ac

I think that Amherst is “lying” about its admissions data. Recall this discussion and this one. There is simply no way for an elite liberal arts college to have competitive sports teams (especially in male helmet sports) and meaningful racial diversity (especially African-American) without around 5% of the student body having either math or verbal SAT scores (or both) below 600.

The trick:

Amherst consistently reports SAT plus ACT totalling 100% of their enrollees (or the 99% that results from adding rounded numbers).

Both Swarthmore and Williams are consistently reporting a total SAT plus ACT in the 110% to 120% range.

Clearly what is going on here is that Swarthmore and Williams are reporting both the SAT and ACT for students submitting both (as they are supposed to according to the instructions).

Amherst is not. Amherst is pulling a “Middlebury” and only reporting whichever score (SAT or ACT) they used for admissions purposes, presumably whichever is higher. (I know that they receive both scores for the dual test takers). It is incomprehsible that not one single enrolled Amherst freshman took both the SAT and the ACT when 20% of both Williams and Swarthmore’s freshman classes the last two years took both.

This a 2008 comment was from HWC, whose contributions I still miss. Looks like Amherst is still cheating. In the latest Common Data Sets, we see for Williams:

will

For Amherst:

amher

Do you see the trick? About the same percentage of students at Williams and Amherst report ACT scores. That makes sense! Williams and Amherst draw their students from the same populations. But Amherst claims that only 52% (instead of 68% at Williams) report SAT scores. That is the lie. Amherst almost surely gets SAT scores from about the same percentage of its students. It just chooses to ignore those scores from those students whose SAT scores are worse than their ACT scores, pretending that it did not “use” those scores in making its admissions decisions. If that is what they are doing (and it almost certainly is), then Amherst is guilty of fraud. How else to explain their divergence from places like Swarthmore:

swarth

And Pomona:

pom

And Wellesley:

welle

There is a great story here for the Record, or for The Amherst Student . . .

Perhaps our friends at Dartblog can help us out. For Dartmouth:

dart

I think that Dartmouth is “pulling an Amherst.” Way more than 51% of the first year students enrolled at Dartmouth took the SAT and reported their scores to Dartmouth when they applied. Dartmouth just “forgets” the scores for those with better ACT than SAT scores when it reports its data. How else could the SAT percentage be 51% at Dartmouth but 85% (!) at Harvard, 74% at Yale, and 67% at Brown. (I think that SAT percentages at Harvard/Yale are inflated due to their prestige. Brown’s percentage is in-line with elite liberal arts colleges. Is there an innocent explanation for Dartmouth’s low percentage? I doubt it.)

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