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Bossong on Berkshire DA Candidate Forum

Meg Bossong ’05, director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, writes:

During the Berkshire County district attorney forum on July 31, the candidates for DA were asked about two campus sexual assault bills pending in the Legislature.

In his response, Paul Caccaviello chose to describe the complex problem of campus sexual assault by pointing to Williams College, specifically, for failing to report incidents of sexual violence to the criminal legal system and to advocate for the legal rights of student survivors of intimate violence.

Mr. Caccaviello’s assertions are patently and categorically false. His own predecessor, David Capeless, refuted this point in a lengthy interview with iBerkshires in 2014, saying “My understanding from talking to [Williamstown Police] Chief [Kyle] Johnson is that when [Williams] gets incidents, they report it to the police. Even when the victim doesn’t want to talk to the police, they tell the police just so they know. Unfortunately, there’s been a misunderstanding of what colleges are doing. It’s too easy to think that they have every reason to suppress the idea that there are assaults on their campus. But they’re not suppressing the information.”

To be effective in advocating on behalf of crime victims, advocates — whether on campus, in community-based agencies like the Elizabeth Freeman Center, or in the DA’s own victim-witness advocacy program — have to help victims understand their options, and the benefits and barriers to accessing them. Williams presents students with all their legal and disciplinary options, and supports them in accessing those, either directly or via connection with off-campus resources.

Survivors of violence often weigh whether they can endure the publicity and pain of a criminal proceeding. That self-searching, at the same time they are reacting to and trying to begin their recovery from trauma, has to include a consideration of whether a criminal complaint is likely to lead to a conviction.

The DA’s office makes the final choice about whether to pursue prosecution in cases of sexual violence that occur in Berkshire County. This includes cases affecting students of the four colleges located here. Mr. Caccaviello needs to tell the voters of our county how many cases of peer-to-peer, alcohol-involved sexual assault and rape his office has chosen to bring to trial, and how many cases they have pleaded out to lesser, non-sexual offenses or agreed to continue without a finding.

With that information, the voters of Berkshire County can decide on Sept. 4 whose advocacy has come up short.

Hmmm. I confess to not following the politics of this closely. Thoughts:

1) Caccaviello does not strike me as the prettiest flower in the bouquet. Should we root against him?

2) Bossong is a friend (?) of EphBlog, so we are on her side in general despite (or because?!) she blocks me on social media.

3) Internal party politics are confusing. (Berkshire County is now a democratic stronghold, so whoever wins the primary will be the next DA.) Caccaviello may be smart to cast Williams College as the villain.

4) Who does Bossong favor? Who does Williams, as an institution, favor? Hard to know! The Berkshire DA has had very little to do with Williams, at least over the last few years (decades?). But a more activist DA, especially one who aspired to higher office and who wanted the (free) press associated with taking on the local giant, could be a giant headache for President Maud Mandel. Imagine a trial like Gensheimer/Foster every year . . .

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Berkshire County DA Candidate Forum

I confess that I did not watch this public forum featuring the three candidates vying to become the next Berkshire Country District Attorney. Did anyone? Previous discussion here.

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Best not to major in #business

Professor Jax Hidalgo tweets:

1) The Forbes article is garbage because it ignores inputs. Lots of less intelligent people — who probably shouldn’t go to college in the first place — major in “business.” Elite schools, like Williams, don’t even offer business as a major. So, it is hardly surprising that business majors do poorly.

2) I am embarrassed for Hidalgo that she does not seem to realize this.

3) There is a great senior thesis to be written about Williams majors and life outcomes. Who will write it?

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Not Being Welcomed, Included, or Accepted

Latest all-faculty e-mail:

From: Marlene Sandstrom
Date: Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 2:59 PM
Subject: syllabus planning and student support
To: WILLIAMS-FACULTY@listserv.williams.edu

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this note finds you well. As we hit mid-August, many of you will begin the process of creating or updating your course syllabi. I’d like to take this opportunity to suggest a few topics for inclusion: (1) the honor code, (2) access to health/accessibility resources, and (3) inclusivity and classroom culture.


The honor code
:
Please consider including a statement about how the honor code (and academic integrity) applies to your coursework. The syllabus is a great place to introduce students to any specific requirements you have about citation, collaboration, use of resource materials, or other issues particular to your work. Even if you plan to provide specific instructions on individual assignments, including information about the honor code in the syllabus sends an important signal about the importance of academic integrity in your classroom.

In addition to outlining general expectations, consider including a statement that encourages students to ask questions if they are unsure about a particular practice or rule (e.g., “If you have any questions about how the honor code applies to your work, please come talk with me. I am always happy to have those conversations.”

One issue that has become increasing thorny for the Honor Committee over the past few years involves the nature of collaborative work. In many instances, faculty allow (and strongly encourage) students to collaborate in some ways and for some assignments, but not in others. The Honor Committee has been hearing a large number of cases in which students seem confused about what sorts of collaborative work are being encouraged, even when faculty believe they had been clear. The syllabus provides a good opportunity for clarity. Rather than providing students with a general principle (e.g., “Students may consult with other students as long as the work they turn in is their own”) you might want to consider being more specific about your expectations around collaboration. What you choose to write will vary depending on the nature of your assignments and expectations, but one example of more detailed language around collaborative work might be: “Students can exchange broad ideas or general approaches toward problem sets with other students, but may not engage in any joint writing or step-by-step problem solving. One way to be sure you are not violating the honor code is to refrain from writing/typing/crafting your response to the assignment with others. Rather, save the writing until you are on your own and working independently.”

Health/Accessibility resources:
Both students and faculty have asked about ways to ensure that students know the resources they can turn to for disabilities and other health issues that affect their academic work. We are continuing to work on improving outreach from our office directly to students regarding these resources. You may wish to include a brief pointer to appropriate resources in your syllabus. Some sample language to consider: “Students with disabilities of any kind who may need accommodations for this course are encouraged to contact Dr. GL Wallace (Director of Accessible Education) at 597-4672. Also, students experiencing mental or physical health challenges that are significantly affecting their academic work or well-being are encouraged to contact me and to speak with a dean so we can help you find the right resources. The deans can be reached at 597-4171.”

Inclusivity and classroom culture
:
You might want to consider including a statement in your syllabus that underscores your commitment to a respectful and inclusive classroom climate. Some sample language to consider: The Williams community embraces diversity of age, background, beliefs, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, and other visible and nonvisible categories. I welcome all students in this course and expect that all students contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment. If you feel that you are not being welcomed, included, or accepted in this class, please come to me or a college administrator to share your concern.

Many thanks to the faculty members who have contributed to the suggested language provided here. Please use whatever you find helpful, and feel free to share additional ideas with me, so that I can pass them along to others.. Also, feel free to get in touch if you’d like to discuss any of these issues further. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer. May time slow down for these last few weeks, and may late August be restorative!

All best wishes,

Marlene

Marlene J. Sandstrom
Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology

1) Isn’t it pretty stupid for every single syllabus to include the exact same language about these issues? Don’t we have a student handbook or some other common means to cover these topics?

2) Put yourself in the shoes of a junior faculty member. The Dean of the College asks you to “consider” using this in your syllabus:

If you feel that you are not being welcomed, included, or accepted in this class, please come to me or a college administrator to share your concern.

Emphasis added. What choice do you have but to include this sniveling invitation to every trouble-making snitch?

3) We have some faculty readers. Will you be including this (newish?) language in your syllabi? Do you think your junior colleagues feel compelled to?

4) What are the standards by which we might determine if a student is, objectively, being “accepted” in a class? Is it possible to be welcomed and included, but not accepted?

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Zach Wood ’18 in Washington Post

From last month:

When I came to Williams, none of my classmates knew about my mother’s illness, my family’s poverty. At the time, I thought that if I told someone, they would see me differently, in a light less positive than I desired.

Ashamed of my past, I pretended it didn’t exist.

But after two semesters, something happened. I was taking a course called “Challenges of Knowing,” when my professor explained that his study of the Holocaust, particularly the stories of survivors, had led him to the conclusion that anecdotal evidence serves a unique purpose: It humanizes facts, figures and abstract ideas in ways that allow us to cultivate empathy and compassion.

He said that as a quantitative social scientist, he valued reliable metrics and good data, but that stories about people’s lived experiences often give texture and meaning to the more technical knowledge surrounding complicated issue areas, particularly for those outside of academia. He went on to discuss the power of confronting trauma, and how, in the context of the Holocaust, the stories of brave survivors help many of us to think about that period of history in a more detailed and complex way.

I’d read many novels and memoirs, and I believed as strongly as anyone that literature could be quite powerful. To me, learning about other people’s stories was fascinating and enlightening.

Yet I hadn’t thought much about how confronting pain and speaking openly about traumatic experiences could strengthen those who mustered the courage to do so.

After listening to my professor speak about the power of vulnerability in the context of the Holocaust — whose survivors had endured the unimaginable — I started to think about my past in a different light.

Read the whole thing. Who was the professor? Kudos to them for having such a positive effect on Zach. And kudos to Jim Reische for tweeting out a link to this article, even though Zach has not always brought Williams the kind of press it would prefer . . .

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Beyond The Log, 15

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 15.

(King1893NYC)_pg245_DELMONICOS,_BEAVER_AND_WILLIAMS_STREETSFred Rudolph: Now, let’s go back to that evening at Delmonico’s in 1871. Both Bascom and Garfield were charting the future course of the College. Bascom, alert to developments in higher education, knew that the Williams of Mark Hopkins was going to have to meet the challenges posed by the new president of Harvard, Charles W. Eliot, who was using electives to open up the curriculum to new learning, and to the opening of Cornell in 1867, whose founder Ezra Cornell had announced: “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.” James A. Garfield, on the other hand, while not denying Bascom’s challenges, reminded his audience that the center of an institution of learning was the relationship between a talented teacher and a willing student. And he gave the College an aphorism with which to remind itself across the years when it grappled with the realities represented by Eliot and Cornell.

In the presidents considered this morning we found Chadbourne holding the future at bay, and Carter transforming Williams into a gentleman’s college that Harry Garfield would clarify and rationalize and that Tyler Dennett would challenge and rethink.

And Maud Mandel will?

And Maud Mandel should?

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Beyond The Log, 14

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 14.

John Chandler: Fred, take us back to the period right after Carter’s twenty-year tenure ended and the trustees apparently were having difficulty appointing a successor. The New York Times reported that the trustees were unable to select anyone. The vote was split about five different ways, and no candidate came close to having a majority. That’s when Hewitt became acting president. And then after Hewitt, Henry Hopkins was chosen at the age of sixty-four, which even today would be extraordinary. What was going on that they apparently were having such a hard time agreeing upon Carter’s successor?

Fred Rudolph: Hewitt was even older than Henry Hopkins, and that may be why he wasn’t named permanent president. In any event, my guess is that the trustees had to decide whether they wanted another Carter or needed breathing time while they decided how they were going to deal with the clear ascendancy of the American university. During that period Dartmouth, under the leadership of William Jewett Tucker (1893-1909), decided it was not going to be a small college any more. Williams, by contrast, decided that it was going to be a good, small, Christian college and, I would say, one that catered to rich men’s sons. Nothing much happened during the Henry Hopkins era. It was a holding operation. Whether the trustees were considering Harry Garfield at that time I don’t know. When Garfield was chosen president in 1908, he had been on the Princeton faculty only four years. When Henry Hopkins was named president in 1902, Garfield was a politician in Cleveland. But he also taught law at Western Reserve, and some people may have viewed him as a possible president of Williams when Hewitt and then Henry Hopkins were chosen.

The speeches at Hopkins’ 1902 induction made clear that the College was sensitive to the challenges it was being asked to meet. The retiring acting president, Hewitt, assured the audience that Williams had no university ambitions and did not believe all studies were equal. The trustee speaker, apparently reassuring an audience that was aware of all the new fraternity houses on Main Street, asserted that Williams was not an aggregation of social clubs nor a pleasure resort. The alumni speaker declared as how the future of the small college was about to be determined: a liberal arts college or a university prep school. Whatever the future, the student speaker was pleased to applaud Franklin Carter for having given Williams “the mark of patrician gentility.” Henry Hopkins himself came down on the side of “the well-rounded man,” on the side of athletics and Christianity. Above all, I believe, the trustees thought they had to be very careful. The big question was, “How are we going to define ourselves in this new environment?” The eventual choice of Garfield seems to me to be a decision to move forward in important ways.

Here are the speeches given at Hopkins inaugural. (When/why was the terminology changes from “inaugural” to “induction?”)

UPDATE: Alas, the link is broken. Does no one at Williams care about our history?

Which do you like the best?

The student speaker, George Frederick Hurd ‘1903, began his speech:

It is not often that the undergraduate perceives the institution of the College in its real proportions. We see one part of the structure, one manifestation of its life, and think that we are in touch with the whole. Our interest in the curriculum asserts that this department of activity is supreme in its usefulness and importance. The exultation of the athletic triumph cries that proficiency in the sports is, after all, the greatest thing to be achieved, and that to this end we owe our first duty. It is only on some great occasion, when the several elements which compose the real College are brought together, and each appears in its proper place and relation, that there rises before us as a novel thing a concept of the largeness and dignity of the institution. It is then that we are moved with a great enthusiasm and a great spirit of loyalty; and so on this great day, in this gathering of the officers, faculty, alumni, and students, all the elements which together make up the unit Williams College, we are profoundly moved, and the words which we speak come from our hearts.

Will there be a student speaker next month? (I hope so.) What should she say?

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Beyond The Log, 13

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 13.

John Chandler: Let’s look at the argument between Bascom and Garfield in the context of what was going on in higher education nationally during that period. I’m referring to movements and trends that you’ve written a lot about—the creation of the land-grant colleges, the development of research universities, debates about whether the Oxbridge classical model was still relevant, and growing interest in German higher education, with its emphasis on research and publication. New places like Johns Hopkins and Cornell were very different from Williams, and even nearby Union College developed a dual-track curriculum that enabled students to follow either the classical model or focus on science and modern languages. Were these matters being discussed at Williams?

Fred Rudolph: That kind of discussion did go on at Williams, but Chadbourne did not encourage it. In fact, one of the remarkable statements Chadbourne made in the context of what you’re talking about was, “You know, I could teach every subject in the curriculum.” When Ira Remsen, a newly appointed professor of chemistry and physics, asked if he could have some space for a laboratory, Chadbourne cautioned, “You must remember that this is a college and not a technical institute.”

Four years later Remsen was on his way to a distinguished career as a chemist, and later president, at the new Johns Hopkins University. Specialization was the new order, but at Williams deciding how to deal with it was pushed forward into the twentieth century. John Haskell Hewitt was named temporary president (1901-1902) and the trustees brought Mark Hopkins’ son Henry (Class of 1858) out of a Kansas City, Mo. pastorate to be president (1902-1908). The trustees were getting nervous about what the future of a place like Williams should be, given what was going on in the rest of the world. Williams became a wealthy college in the 1880s during Carter’s administration, and it might have chosen to go in different directions, but the Hewitt and Henry Hopkins appointments suggest that the trustees did not yet know in what direction they wanted to go.

Whatever you think of fraternities, they were intended to be instruments for fostering gentlemanly conduct. The Mark Hopkins era was still principally about students becoming good Christians. There was always an internal war at the College over the question, What are we here for?

What, indeed?

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Beyond The Log, 12

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 12.

Fred Rudolph: James A. Garfield’s remark about Mark Hopkins and the log was in response to a speech that Bascom had just made to Williams alumni at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York. That event in 1871 set the stage for the main story of the Williams presidents in the era that we’re discussing today. In effect, John Bascom said to the alumni, “You may love the place, but it’s in a mess. It’s got a president who’s sitting on his ass. The place is too close to Pownal, too far from New York and Boston, where the action is. There’s no library, there are no laboratories, the trustees are too old. The place really needs attention.”

That upset Garfield, and he got up and said, “Well, but the ideal college is Mark Hopkins on one end of a log and a student on the other.” That was the beginning of the argument over whether the future of Williams lay with Bascom’s vision or Garfield’s aphorism.

Chadbourne paid hardly any attention to Bascom, who soon left for the University of Wisconsin, where Chadbourne himself had been president before coming to Williams in 1872. Bascom would like to have been president of Williams, I think. There’s some interesting correspondence in the Library of Congress between Bascom and Garfield about what they both said that night, and what they meant. Garfield said, in effect, “I didn’t mean that we shouldn’t have libraries and laboratories.” I don’t think Bascom ever said anything to suggest that he didn’t mean what he said. No president since 1872 including Adam Falk, who has yet to take over, has been free from the questions raised by that evenings’ contest between Bascom and Garfield over just how much and in what ways an old New England liberal arts college should accommodate itself to challenging developments in society and learning.

Indeed. How do you predict Maud Mandel will handle this century-old dispute?

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Beyond The Log, 11

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 11.

Fred Rudolph: He [President Garfiled] deserves credit for important curricular reform. He delegated leadership on that front to Professor T.C. Smith of the history department. A case can be made that Garfield’s style was to delegate. That’s one way to get things done. When he went to Washington he turned the running of the College over to Professor Carroll Maxcy, giving rise to the student ditty “Maxcy of Hoxsey, prexy by proxy.”

Great ditty! Longtime readers will recall that I quoted Professor Maxcy here, perhaps the best of my 5,000+ 10,000 posts at EphBlog.

To our faculty readers: Professor Maxcy is still being read and quoted 50 years after his death. Will Williams students and alumni be quoting you in 2060 2068? If not, why not?

The 1911 curriculum that Garfield and T.C. Smith created was a significant moment in the history of higher education, because it packaged subject matter into divisions, it created the requisites and sequences and made room for new subjects without obliterating the old ones. The departmental major of sequence courses was topped with a unique double-credit senior seminar. The Garfield curriculum was an effort to make clear that if you came to Williams you could get an education. You didn’t have to. You could come to Williams and concentrate on being a fraternity member, and some students did. In conjunction with the new curriculum was an honors program, so the best students could define themselves on a higher level of intellectual activity than had been true earlier. Interestingly, the 1911 curriculum and the honors program (which Garfield proposed in his inaugural address) were still operating when I entered in 1938. It was still there after World War II, and indeed even into Jack Sawyer’s administration. That curriculum never got the PR that it should have had.

Indeed. There are two separate (I think) issues here:

First, the honors program. Faculty often complain that students do not progress to a “higher level of intellectual activity.” I agree. The Swarthmore Honors program is widely effective and popular. Why not institute something like that at Williams as an optional track for the most intellectually serious students?

Second, the curriculum. In retrospect, it is easy to see how Garfield’s reforms were part of the leading edge of higher education, that almost all elite schools now have similar programs (leaving aside outliers like St. John’s and Olin). But the future is far less clear. What changes will the next 100 years bring? What movements should Williams try to lead, or at least try not to get left behind by? My guess would involve a curriculum in which almost all student work is public and which involves a much closer engagement with the outside world. What is your guess?

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Being a Williams professor is not a bad deal . . .

If Professor Iris Howley is trying to make us jealous . . . she is succeeding!

By the way, we had some technical problems — thanks to loyal readers for pointing them out — but they are now fixed. (Be careful about PHP upgrades when running very old WordPress installations!) Comment away!

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Beyond The Log, 10

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 10.

John Chandler: It’s often remarked that Dennett enlivened the faculty with new appointments.

Fred Rudolph: Yes, Dennett really did some interesting things with faculty. In 1938 Howard Mumford Jones in the Atlantic Monthly referred to Williams’ faculty as the liveliest in New England. Tyler Dennett recruited people who were being kicked out of other places because of their politics. Among that group you get people like labor economist Bob Brooks from Yale, economist Robert Lamb from Harvard, and political scientist Fred Schuman from the University of Chicago. Dennett was bringing in exciting new faculty members such as Max Lerner, a well-known liberal and contributor to The Nation and the New Republic. At the same time Dennett was trying to get rid of deadwood.

Would anyone today call the Williams faculty the “liveliest in New England?” Probably not. And that is a good thing! The more that Williams faculty focus on Williams students — and the less they focus on the opinions of, say, the readers of the New Republic — the better for Williams.

Do you think that Maud Mandel will try to “get rid of deadwood?” Do you think she should?

When was the last time that Williams recruited a (tenured?) professor from Yale, Harvard or the University of Chicago?

I think that the most prominent (expensive?) senior appointment in the last few years was Joy James. The resulting disaster is a clue as to why senior appointments are often problematic.

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Beyond The Log, 9

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 9.

Bob Stegeman: Do you have anything further to say about the Institute of Politics?

Fred Rudolph: I think the students resented it because it had nothing to do with them, except that it took the president away for a couple of months each year as he was lining up the program. It was a summer operation that started in 1921 and lasted until about 1932 or 1933. It attracted about 800 to 900 people, which was a great boon to the Williamstown economy. People paid to come. It was a chance for countries to explain themselves and argue for their policies. Mussolini sent people from Italy. Like Chautauqua, the institute was a good way to combine a vacation with intellectual stimulation. It was undoubtedly good PR for Williams and Williamstown. According to Garfield’s account, the idea came to him one restless night at the President’s House. So he talked with his old college roommate Bentley Warren (Class of 1885), chairman of the Board of Trustees. Warren liked the idea. Then Garfield talked with Bernard Baruch, who said, “Let’s do it. I’ll pay for it.”

1) There is a great senior thesis to be written about the Institute of Politics. If you are a political science major, you ought to write it.

2) In some sense, the Summer Institute in American Foreign Policy, led by our own Professor James McAllister, is a direct descendant of the IOP. Did any readers attend this year? How did it go?

3) The single most important thing that Maud Mandel could do to ensure the future wealth (and, therefore, success) of Williams 200 years from now is to make Williams the best undergraduate college in the world for students interested in finance. We need a finance concentration, followed by a finance major and then a finance department. Along with that, we ought to establish an “Institute of Finance,” modeled directly on the history of the “Institute of Politics.”

Invite Ephs in finance for a week or two meeting each summer in Williamstown. Much time would be spent on golf and hiking (just as at Herb Allen’s ’62 annual Sun Valley meeting). There would be panels and discussions, featuring both alumni and faculty. Several dozen students would be invited to spend the summer in Williamstown, preparing for the meeting, working with professors on finance-related research and so on.

Over time (and with much hard work), this event could grow in significance and importance, even if most/all of the attendees were Ephs. It would make Williams famous for the quality of its finance education and more likely to appeal to applicants interested in finance, especially those that we currently lose to Harvard/Yale/Princeton. An Institute of Finance would bind the community of finance Ephs — students, faculty and alumni — together and more tightly to Williams as an institution.

Perhaps the only question is: Which (rich) finance Eph can play the role of Bernard Baruch? I nominate: Greg Avis ’80, Andreas Halvorsen ’86 or Chase Coleman ’97.

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Beyond The Log, 8

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 8.

Fred Rudolph: At any rate, Dennett’s three years have always seemed to me to have shaped everything that’s happened since. The presidents who have succeeded him have had the job of fixing the problem that Dennett identified. In other words, the period we’re talking about brought about all of the things that helped to define Williams as a rich man’s college. But Williams College is no longer a rich man’s college. The story of how Williams deriched itself isn’t hard to tell, but that’s not our subject today.

Has Williams really “deriched” itself? I have my doubts. See here and here for this extensive background. Summary: There is not a lot of hard evidence that Williams has meaningfully deriched itself over time periods ranging from 10 to 25, 50, even 100 years.

Vaguely related comments:

1) Williams accepts 1/2 its students from private schools of various sorts, the same as it did 50 years ago. (I don’t actually have data for that, but this is true for Amherst so I suspect it is true for Williams.) Now, Andover students have always come from families with various levels of wealth. Perhaps (!) there are more “poor” students at Andover than there were 50 years ago. But, by almost all reasonable standards of “richness” — wealth, income, family stability, cultural capital, educational opportunities — Andover students are about as well off today as they were in 1960, at least relative to the US population as a whole. So, if 50% of Williams students came from such places before, and 50% do now, then just how much derichifying has gone on? Not much.

2) Even if there is more diversity in terms of family income (which, again, I dispute), that diversity is a lot more hidden than it used to be. Does it really matter if you are poor if no one knows? My sense, contrary opinions welcome, is that current students have less knowledge about their classmates wealth than they have about their classmates intelligence, much less their looks. (Side note: And wouldn’t most Williams students gladly give up some family wealth if it meant more intelligence and/or better looks?)

A hundred years ago, students bid on their rooms!. Rich students got the best rooms. Poor students got the worst. Now wealth has (almost) no influence on housing at Williams. Fifty years ago “scholarship students” served food and bussed tables in the fraternity houses. The difference in the daily lives between poor and rich students is much less today than it has been in the passed.

3) The most interesting senior thesis on this topic would examine whether or not family income has any connection to student rooming groups. I bet that it does not. That is, a student on financial aid is no more likely to live in a given rooming group than a student not on financial aid. [This is, of course, totally different from the influence of race and athletics. Students from a given racial group (or sports team) are much more likely to room with students of the same race (or on the same team).]

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Beyond The Log, 7

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 7.

John Chandler: You’ve told us a lot about how Williams became a rich man’s college, the various steps on the way. But a somewhat different question is why it got to be that way. What about Williams attracted rich students, and their parents who paid the bills and presumably encouraged them to apply?

Fred Rudolph: There are lots of reasons why Williams became a rich man’s college. I’m always fascinated with trying to figure out why Williams became The College for rich men. Not that rich men didn’t go everywhere else, but Williams was the one that got tagged, and clearly if you’re the last college in the country with a four-year Latin requirement, you’re limiting your pool to rich men who go to private schools. But how did they start coming in great numbers? There’s plenty of evidence in student letters, fraternity lore, and administrators’ experience that many rich kids came to Williams to belong to a fraternity, not to come to Williams. Certainly instructive on this score was the experience of the College’s great benefactor, Frederick Ferris Thompson, who transferred from Columbia in 1853 for the express purpose of founding a chapter of Delta Psi (he had wanted to take Delta Psi to Dartmouth but was denied admission because of his age).

Williams’ location, the scenery, the mountains, the resort element of its environment—all these factors were part of the appeal for rich families and their sons. Williamstown had resort hotels beginning in the 1840s, and you can imagine people coming to those hotels: the Mansion House, then Greylock, saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice if junior came to Williams?” Then there was the kind of nature worship that developed as the country became more urbanized, and that appealed to wealthy people.

But was Williams more or less of a “rich man’s college” than, say, Amherst and Swarthmore during this period? See also Eric’s discussion of the Social Register crowd.

Reasonable Ephs can differ about just how many rich kids Williams should want to have today. But I hope that we can all agree that, if a specific rich applicant has a choice between Williams and Amherst (or Princeton/Harvard/Yale), we all want that rich applicant to choose Williams, just as we want poor applicants or athletic applicants or any other kind of applicant to pick us over our competitors.

So, what would be today’s analog to fraternities? My suggestion: Every room a single. Williams should institute a policy in which every student is guaranteed a single. This would be highly appealing to rich (and poor!) applicants. It would make Williams dramatically different than our main competitors. It is an advantage that is easy to explain and understand. Williams already has significantly better housing than Harvard, although we do a horrible job of explaining that advantage to applicants, or Harvard does a good job of misleading applicants about their likelihood of getting a real single.

Giving very Eph a single is, of course, hard and expensive. The easiest way would be to, over 5 years, reduce the size of the class from 550 to around 480 or so. (This would also have all sorts of desirable side effects.) We should also continue to convert smaller buildings to co-ops. Trickiest issue would be dealing 100+ first year doubles. So, best plan would be to start with: Every student guaranteed a single after freshman year.

What would you do to attract rich students?

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Beyond The Log, 6

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 6.

Fred Rudolph: My impression is that the College has always had somebody who would get up and, referring to scholarship students, say, “This is not a rich man’s college.” And then proceed to do what he could to make sure that it was. Carter at one point said, “Williams College is not a resort for rich men’s sons.” But it was Carter who went out and persuaded Gov. Edwin Morgan of New York to give the money to build Morgan Hall (1882). Morgan Hall was the poshest college dormitory in the country. It was the first building at Williams with running water. And how did a student get a room in Morgan? He bid for it; the rooms went to the students with the most money. Soon after Morgan was built, Lasell Gymnasium went up across the street. There you have it. Two statements about what Williams was about. And soon thereafter the fraternities started scrapping their little hovels and began to erect significant buildings.

Interim President Bill Wagner was the most recent Williams administrator to “say, ‘This is not a rich man’s college.’ And then proceed to do what he could to make sure that it was.”

Recall my commentary on Wagner’s 2010 decision to change financial aid policy at Williams.

Assume that I am evil, that I seek to minimize the number of poor students at Williams and that I have mind-control over Bill Wagner and the Trustees. What would I do?

Keep in mind: 1) Unfortunately, I need to be sneaky! I just can’t fire Admissions Director Dick Nesbitt or order the Admissions to start favoring rich kids. 2) Any family that doesn’t make at least $200,000 per year and have substantial assets is, as far as I am concerned, “poor.” 3) I don’t mind poor students as long as they have a burning desire to be rich, to head to Wall Street or Silicon valley after graduation and make a fortune. 4) I have already laid the groundwork by endlessly complaining about financial constraints (and conveniently ignoring that Swarthmore and Amherst are holding steady to their stated policies).

Given these constraints, we can maximize the number of rich students at Williams in five easy steps:

First, I would end the no-loans policy. I can’t prevent Dick Nesbitt from admitting all those poor kids, but I can do my best to make poor kids go elsewhere. The best way to do that is to end the no-loans policy. What poor kid would ever choose Williams over Amherst/Swarthmore/Princeton/Davidson/Haverford and so on if doing so required an extra $10,000+ in loans? Few would, and none should! See our prior discussion. Only rich students will choose Williams over no-loans schools.

Second, I would end need-blind admissions for international students. I don’t mind non-US citizens as long as they are rich (or want to be rich). I just don’t want too many poor (or plan on staying poor) international students. Williams is for the rich of all countries. Although I can’t force Dick Nesbitt to actively discriminate against poor students, I can limit his budget enough that he has no choice but to do so.

Key in both ending no loan and need-blind is that it makes Williams much less desirable to both students coming from non-rich families and to students thinking of lower paying careers in teaching, social work and so on. And that is the point! I want those students to go to Swarthmore and Amherst instead. Rich students and future investment bankers won’t be deterred by loans or need-awareness admissions. If anything, they will be looking for elite schools that “provide a better fit” for them and students like them. These two policy changes both decrease applications from poor students and make it more likely that admitted poor students will go elsewhere.

Read the rest of that most excellent rant. If Williams wanted to maximize the number of rich students, it would have made exactly the set of financial aid changes that it did, in fact, make.

And, as Fred Rudolph points out, this is not the first time a Williams administrator has said ““This is not a rich man’s college.” And then proceed[ed] to do what he could to make sure that it was.

UPDATE: Has much changed in the last eight years? Not really. In anything, we have even more evidence that Williams is a rich man’s college! Recall:

Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 9.57.33 AM

About 20% of each Williams class has come from super-rich families for, approximately, forever. I don’t see much evidence that Williams is much more economically diverse today than it was 100 years ago. Do you?

Do I actually believe that Bill Wagner (or Morty Schapior or Adam Falk or Maud Mandel or . . .) thinks this way? No! They truly want greater social economic diversity at Williams. Rudolph’s point about Carter — and the other Williams presidents of that era — was not that they were nasty plutocrats who hated the poor. The opposite was true! Rudolph’s point was that their actions were, by and large, indistinguishable from those of an evil genius who wanted to maintain Williams’s status as a “a rich man’s college.”

What are the odds the trends in the above graph will change during President Mandel’s tenure? Very, very low.

(And, to be clear, that is a good thing! I want Williams to be a rich man’s (and woman’s!) college. See our ten part discussion for background. I just get tired of watching people like Morty and Adam preen about how committed they are to socio-economic diversity when, in fact, they changed so little.)

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McAllister on Rudolph

Professor James McAllister writes (with respect to this post):

With all due respect to the late Fred Rudolph, a superb historian of so many facets of the college’s history, these two letters written by Harry Garfield in 1909 and 1924 do not sound like someone who “had no trouble with the role of Williams as an instrument of the upper class.” Obviously, Garfield was not a Marxist or socialist, but he was certainly not comfortable with elaborate displays of wealth at the college, was proud of his efforts to provide scholarships to the less fortunate, and took great offense when at the idea that Williams was only a place for the wealthy. Always important to remember in this context that his father grew up in extreme poverty and did not amass any substantial savings before being elected to the presidency in 1880. Garfield had a healthy appreciation for capitalism, but one always tempered by a recognition that the rich had a responsibility to act in the larger interests of society.

I believe that James is the Williams professor with (by far?) the greatest knowledge of Williams history. Are there any other contenders for Fred Rudolph’s crown?

Those two letters are fascinating! Should we go through them in detail?

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Beyond The Log, 5

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 5.

Fred Rudolph: There’s no question about what Dennett didn’t like about the place. In a 1975 honors thesis on the gentleman’s Williams, Guy Creese ’75 documented the background of the student body that disturbed Dennett: In the Class of 1929, thirty-six percent had traveled in Europe; 1930, twenty-nine percent; 1931, thirty-six percent. That’s a pretty fancy group. In 1930 there was a Chapin Library exhibit of rare books to which seventeen students contributed. In 1935, thirty-seven percent of the upperclassmen had cars. In 1938, almost eighty percent of the freshmen families had servants. In 1938 only twenty-five percent of the students had summer jobs. Fifty-five percent came from families with two or more cars. In 1934, forty-four of the 775 students were in the New York Social Register, and four in the Boston Social Register. The Williams Record had fashion issues dealing with men’s clothing. There were three men’s clothing stores on Spring Street for a student body of less than 800. The Stork Club ran ads in The Williams Record.

When Dennett arrived as president, Lehman Hall had just been built. It had beautiful pine paneling and big fireplaces. And the top floor had modest little rooms for scholarship students. The other student rooms—handsome and spacious—commanded the highest rents on campus. At the end of Dennett’s administration, the squash courts were built. What a symbolic statement! I don’t know how many colleges in the United States had squash courts in 1938, in the midst of the most serious economic depression in history. Tyler Dennett knew that Williams didn’t need them, but the people who gave them insisted. Well, that’s the environment that Dennett hoped to do something about, the environment that he perceived as having little connection with the real America.

0) Here (pdf

pdf) is New York Times coverage.

1) Guy was an Ephblog author. Hope he comes back someday!

2) People are still reading and talking about Guy’s thesis, more than 35 years after he wrote it. Want your thesis to live as long? Write about Williams.

3) Bob Magill Jr. ’65 wrote:

QUESTION c. 1990, a book was out that tracked the top 5 college preferences of the children of the social register in large cities on the East Coast, from the years 1900 to 1950. The only college, besides Harvard Yale Princeton that was in the top 5 in more than one city was Williams (Boston and NY). The authors stated that Williams was considered “the national liberal arts college” and an exceptional alternative to HYP with the best educational facilities for a small liberal arts college. I only have some of my notes on this book — does anyone know the title, the author(s), etc? I asked Fred Rudolph over the weekend at the reunion and he could not remember either.

Can anyone help Bob?

4) I think that having students from extremely rich families want to go to Williams is a very, very good thing. If the Hollander twins had not wanted to go to Williams, we would not have Hollander Hall. How much admission preference, if any, should be given to such “development” admits is an open question. (Such cases used to be called “Morty Specials” by the admissions office. Has the nomenclature changed yet?)

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Beyond The Log, 4

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 4.

John Chandler: We all know that Dennett’s presidency from 1934 to 1937 was stormy and brief. What happened?

Fred Rudolph: Well, as you know, in 1937 Dennett gave a speech to the Boston alumni saying there were too many “nice boys” at Williams. My sense is that he meant there were just too many graduates of private schools and not enough diversity. Williams had the highest percent of private school graduates of any college in the country. A big reason was the four-year Latin admission requirement, and Garfield was adamant about keeping it. He’d gone to St. Paul’s School, and that had something to do with the kind of college that he wanted to be president of.

But by the time Dennett was made president, even in the prep schools there were many students who did not take four years of Latin. And remember that Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth were also competing for the prep school graduates. The result was that the Williams applicant pool was damn small. Williams was probably taking one out of every two applicants, and it was accepting applications from weak students, just as long as they’d taken four years of Latin. (Interestingly, the trustees reduced the Latin requirement to three years just as Garfield left and Dennett arrived.)

1) For more on the “nice boys” speech, see Guy Creese’s ’75 senior thesis: “The Concept of the Gentleman at Williams College: 1929-1939.” Guy wrote a series of three posts about his thesis: first, second and third. Highly recommended. But I really want to read the whole thing. Why isn’t it on-line?

2) Do you think that Williams gets too many or too few nice boys (and girls) today? If you could change one thing about Williams admissions, what would it be?

I would go to more of a Caltech or Olin model in which race, athletic ability and socio-economic status play much less of a role in admissions. Bring the most academically talented and ambitious students to Williams regardless of the color of their skin, the strength of their backhand or the educational credentials of their parents.1

1. I wrote that last paragraph eight years ago. My views are the same, albeit much better informed about the details.

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Beyond The Log, 3

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 3.

John Chandler: Harry Garfield (Class of 1885) was president from 1908 to 1934, a remarkably long tenure—second only to Mark Hopkins’. It encompassed World War I and a big chunk of the Great Depression. The New York Times story about Garfield’s inauguration claimed that the audience was probably the largest and most distinguished collection of American educators ever assembled. Why did he draw that kind of crowd?

Fred Rudolph: Probably by sending out a lot of invitations. And by giving fifteen honorary degrees. And, of course, as the son of a slain U.S. president he had a newsworthy name. He was also the friend of a future president, Woodrow Wilson. Garfield was known far beyond Williams, both nationally and then abroad after he founded the Institute of Politics. Meanwhile, he accomplished a lot at Williams. Like Woodrow Wilson, Garfield was a progressive politician. During his administration his concern was for good government and young men taking up lives of public service. In a way, that was a slightly secular version of what a number of speakers were saying at the Centennial celebration, and it was consistent with the direction and tone set by the Williams Christian Association when it made Jesup Hall its headquarters and the symbol of what it was about.

Williams was no longer telling students that they needed a dramatic conversion experience and then go out and become preachers. It was telling them to go out and be public servants and responsible citizens.

1) A century later, what do you think the message will be at Maud Mandel’s induction? What do you think the message should be?

2) The event for Mandel on September 8th is currently labeled an “induction.” Why that terminology? Anyone gotten an invitation yet? What events would you like to see?

3) To maximize the success of Williams over the new few hundred years, the most important message for graduates is one which causes them to center (a portion of) of their lives around Williams as an institution. We want them to care about their families and careers, of course, but we also need them to care about Williams, to donate their time, energy and money to the College. Assume for second that you agree with this goal, how would you go about doing it, above and beyond what Williams already does?

4) Amusing that Garfield was concerned about the role of the role of athletics! Perhaps this is where Morty got the idea from . . .

In any event, my opinion on athletics is the same as a (vast?) majority of the faculty. Williams should provide extensive athletics opportunities for students but it should stop giving so much preference to athletes, qua athletes, in admissions. Background reading here.

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Beyond The Log, 2

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it. Day 2.

Fred Rudolph: Garfield had high academic standards and was a creative educator. He wanted students to devote their lives to public service and good citizenship. But he also had no trouble with the role of Williams as an instrument of the upper class. Dennett was upset about that. He had no problem with upper-class kids. He just wanted a better mix. And with the Latin admission requirement you could not get a mix. Still, it’s interesting that although Dennett wanted to do something about nice boys, he refused federal scholarship money—money intended for poor kids. In addition, he told his admission officer not to accept blacks and Jews. Why? Because they were not treated fairly here. There was no synagogue for the Jewish students, and black students were treated as second-class citizens. Ironically, it was sensitivity to the life of being Jewish or black in a fraternity-oriented college that led him to take a position that defeated his effort to increase student variety. Stopping the admission of Jewish and black applicants was a dramatic step. Since the late nineteenth century the small but steady stream of black and Jewish students who came to Williams supplied a disproportionate number of academic stars and distinguished alumni.

What Dennett was essentially saying was that there were too many nice white boys, and he wanted some white boys that weren’t so nice. Charlie Keller said that the “nice boys” speech was a great boon to the admission operation, because there were people who wanted to come to Williams because it was doing something about the “nice boys” problem but also people who wanted to come to Williams because it had lots of nice boys.

There are at least three great senior theses waiting to be written about these topics:

1) A history of Williams admissions. Karabel’s The Chosen is a magisterial description of admissions to Harvard, Yale and Princeton over the last 100 years. Write the same for Williams, and scores of people will read your thesis. (I used The Chosen in these posts: here and here. Highly recommended for new readers.)

2) A history of Jews at Williams. Not written when this was first posted in 2010, now completed: Jews at Williams: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Class at a New England Liberal Arts College by Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft. See here for the start of EphBlog’s 13 part review, and we are only 1/3rd of the way done!

3) A history of African-Americans at Williams. Start with Black Williams.

75 years ago, Williams restricted the number of Black and Jewish students. Today, we restrict the number of international students. Isn’t it obvious that, a few decades from now, history will judge President Mandel — assuming she does not change the policy — in the same way that we (harshly) judge President Dennett?

The solution is simple: Williams should no more distinguish between applicants on the basis of their passports then it does on the basis of their religion. If applicant X (with Mexican citizenship) is stronger then applicant Y (with US citizenship), we ought to admit applicant X.

The best way for Mandel to get from here to there is to steal a page from Morty’s playbook when he significantly decreased the importance of athletics on admissions: Form a committee! Put together a group of 6 faculty — and choose them wisely! — to gather data and evidence about international admissions, to compare Williams with its peers, to seek the opinions of current students and alumni. Because on most important issues (!), the Williams faculty agrees with me, I have no doubt that such a committee would recommend that Williams significantly decrease the penalty placed on international applicants, just as the Williams of President Phinney Baxter ’14 significant decreased the penalty placed on Jewish applicants.

In the short term, Williams should have the same percentage of international students as, say, Brown: 11%. In the longer term, we should accept a class with the most academically talented and ambitious students from around the world. (Students must speak English fluently. Williams should pay enough attention to ability-to-pay to keep the college financially healthy.) The more international students that Williams accepts now, the more successful we will be 50 years in the future.

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Beyond The Log, 1

“Beyond the Log: Williams Presidents in the Gentleman’s Era” (pdf) is a product of the Williams Oral History Project, led by Bob Stegeman ’60. It features a discussion with Professors Fred Rudolph ’42 and John Hyde ’52, along with former President John Chandler about Williams presidents from Paul Ansel Chadbourne (1872-81) to Tyler Dennett (1934-37). Let’s spend three weeks discussing it.1 What do you want to know about Williams history? Ask your questions in the comments. Day 1.

John Chandler: As all of us know, we are going to be dealing principally with presidents of Williams, starting with Paul Ansel Chadbourne, who succeeded Mark Hopkins, and moving forward through Tyler Dennett. Perhaps first we ought to explain the inspiration for our meeting and for the interview format with which we are going to explore those Williams presidents. Fred had at one time intended a sequel to his Mark Hopkins book and in fact had spent many years of research on the post-Hopkins years. He had especially explored student life, faculty development, and trustee influence. One of the results of that research was his bicentennial essay, “Williams College 1793-1993: Three Eras, Three Cultures,” which has been included as an appendix in the 1996 edition of Mark Hopkins and the Log. A particular stimulus for this morning’s gathering was provided by Steve Lewis ’60, a former Williams economics professor who became president of Carleton. Steve asked me whether there was some way to take advantage of Fred’s understanding of this era. Fred, would you like to add any words about the book you didn’t write?

Fred Rudolph: Let it be said that the Williams archives possess the evidence of how far that project went—boxes of notes, folders of Xeroxed documents, extensive bibliographical intentions.

There is an amazing senior thesis to be written about this era at Williams. Who will write it? If you are a history major with a desire to a) Spend a summer at Williams doing some preliminary research and b) Have 100+ people read your thesis, then this is the topic for you. The vast majority of Williams theses are never read by anyone other than the adviser. Write about the history of Wiliams, and your words will live for decades.

1. The only previous version of this series ran in 2010. It has been updated.

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MacDonald Report

Lest it disappear forever, here (pdf) is a copy of the 2002 MacDonald Report, originally entitled Report on Varsity Athletics by Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Athletics. (Thanks for Professor Alan White for providing EphBlog with this copy, a much easier to read version than the one we have been using for the last decade.)

Should we spend a week on changes Williams athletics in the 16 years after the report?

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Vanderbilt Better Than Williams?

As usual, the comment threads at EphBlog make for the best reading. Consider this one, which covers a lot of ground but focuses on how Williams is doing relative to its peers. Consider Vanderbilt:

vand

The comparable data from Williams, for the 2016-2017 school year, is (pdf):

Screen Shot 2018-06-29 at 10.38.07 AM

How can Vanderbilt (math+verbal) SAT scores have a 25th/75th percentile split of 1420-1590 while Williams is at 1330-1540!?!

I am honestly flummoxed . . .

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Critical Mass

From abl:

there’s a separate question about creating a Williams environment that supports all of its students. Without a critical mass of students from under-represented groups, Williams will struggle to attract students from these groups, and students from these groups may struggle at Williams. It may therefore be beneficial or even necessary for Williams to admit more students from these groups than it would otherwise so as to build a class that “works” for everyone. This is true, even if you accept both of my above points: there’s a real happiness/satistfaction cost to adopting an admissions policy that leaves Williams looking more like Caltech–student outcomes and student satisfaction for those few URM students at Williams are likely to plummet in an isolating environment of that nature.

“Critical mass” arguments for affirmative action mostly fail:

1) They don’t apply to smaller groups. Williams has (pdf) 2 total students who are “American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic.” That doesn’t seem like much mass to me!

2) abl has no evidence — because there is no evidence — that “student satisfaction for those few URM students at Williams are likely to plummet” if we practiced less affirmative action. African-American students at Williams are almost certainly less satisfied than other students at Williams, but is the gap any greater at Middlebury, with a much smaller percentage of African-American students? Not that I have heard.

3) abl has no evidence — because there is no evidence — that “students from these groups may struggle at Williams” without a critical mass. Middlebury, and other schools, with fewer URMs don’t see this and Williams itself does not see that effect in relation to Amherst, which has a much higher percentage of African-American students than we do.

Again, the true goal of Williams admissions is to have a class that “reflects” or “mirrors” the US population. The American Indian population is small, so 2 total students is fine. No one really cares whether or not there is a critical mass of such students because critical mass is not the true goal. Proportional representation is the goal. Critical mass is just one of the ex post facto stories used to justify the goal.

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No Loans

Our friends at Dartblog cover the hypocrisies of “no loan” financial aid.

Please. Don’t make more of this “no loans” thing. It’s very misleading. Princeton is very generous, but even then many of the students take out loans. According to Princeton’s own literature, 18% graduate with debt.

How is that possible? The literature says no loans! Some borrow to fund study abroad or other adventures. Some skip a paying summer job and need to borrow to cover the lost money. There are probably many reasons.

The point is that “no loans” is pretty much a fraud. They still get to make up a number and insist that the kid can afford to pay it. At Princeton, 18% can’t. Remember, it’s their definition of ability to pay, not the kids and not the parents.

And it’s worth noting that we’re just talking about student loans. Parental loans are a completely different ball of wax. No college is making a “no loans” pledge to parents.

The schools are also free to pull a number out of thin air and say this is your expected family contribution. I’m told by a savvy number cruncher that anyone making more than $120k is expected to contribute $60k. Note the $120k is pretax and the $60k is post tax.

As you might imagine, many parents need to borrow from home equity or other sources.

Even at the richest schools, these promises are hollow and some of the most misleading propaganda put out by the college industrial complex.

I used to rail against the College’s ending of its “no loans” financial policy a decade ago. And Williams does continue to spend too little money on students and too much on other stuff. But, former Provost Will Dudley shared* some interesting results a few years ago highlighting that total borrowing by Williams students seemed about the same during the loans and no-loans period. Why? It is unclear but many poorer students come from families with debt, especially expensive credit card debt. Taking out student loans — even if the Williams aid package is so generous you don’t “need” to — and paying off those debts can make perfect sense from the point of view of the entire family’s finances.

*Note that Will, unlike current provost Dukes Love, refused to make those findings public. So, unless you were an insider — a rich and/or engaged alum — you never got to see them.

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Overlap History

From MIT in 1992:

The unprecedented antitrust case had its origins in an investigation begun in 1989 by the Justice Department. The Antitrust Division of the Justice Department reportedly sent civil investigative demands to some 57 colleges, who were asked to submit thousands of pounds of records over many years. In 1989, the last full year of participation in the agreement, 23 colleges attended the annual spring meeting to discuss the relative need of commonly admitted students.

The case was fought by MIT after the eight Ivy League colleges agreed in May, 1991 – while admitting no culpability – to sign a consent decree barring such cooperation for 10 years, unless Congress passes legislation to authorize it.

The civil suit involved an agreement that MIT and the eight Ivy League colleges entered into in the 1950s. The colleges agreed to admit students solely on the basis of merit and distribute their scholarship money solely on the basis of need.

They also agreed to establish methods of determining what the applicants’ family could afford and – in the case of applicants who had overlapping offers of admission from more than one of the colleges – to discuss significant differences in the colleges’ judgements of the individual students’ financial need.

The biggest beneficiaries to the ending of Overlap were non-rich, highly desirable applicants. On average, middle class African-American students probably benefited more than anyone.

And readers wonder why I am sometimes suspicious of elite colleges . . .

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In Solidarity and in Community

From a faculty source:

> From: “Patterson-Stephens, Shawna”
> Date: July 13, 2018 at 6:21:12 PM GMT+2
> To: WILLIAMS-PERSONNEL@LISTSERV.WILLIAMS.EDU
> Subject: Community Space in Response to Incident at Sawyer Library
> Reply-To: “Patterson-Stephens, Shawna”
>
> Williams Students, Faculty, and Staff,
>
> Recently, printed materials expressing anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic, anti-Black, and anti-LGBTQIA sentiment were placed in the library stacks of the Sawyer Library.
>
> The Davis Center will host a community space this afternoon (Friday, July 13th) in the Jenness Conference Room from 2:00 pm-5:00 pm in response to these harmful sentiments. We invite you to join us for as long or as little as you’d like, in solidarity and in community.
>
> The DC Staff also invites you to join us in reclaiming our space with messages of affirmation we intend to post throughout campus. These messages, in the form of posters, will be available on the conference room table–feel free to drop by and take one or some for your offices, classrooms, and residential spaces.
>
> ​Yours,
> The Davis Center Staff​

Here are some photos of the students (?) who disrupted (?) the Williamstown July 4th parade and the annual reading of the Founding Documents in Sawyer.

001-070418_williamstown_parade--001

002-070418_williamstown_parade--003

003-070418_williamstown_parade--004

1) I bet that there is some overlap/connection between these protestors and the Davis Center folks organizing this “Response.” In particular, who paid for those nicely printed posters?

2) What would happen to a student/professor who organized “messages of affirmation” to counteract ideas of the July 4th protestors? There are many trolling opportunities available.

3) Please post photos of these “messages of affirmation.” Future historians will thank you!

4) Non-violent protest/speech is at the heart of a free society. I want more messages from both the July 4th protestors and the anonymous white nationalists. Indeed, if Robert Gaudino were still with us, he would be trying to arrange a debate between the two groups. Uncomfortable Learning indeed!

5) Am I wrong to suspect that the Davis Center folks want to silence voices on campus that disagree with them (e.g., Trump supporters suspicious of Muslim immigration) while insisting on their right to disrupt events like the July 4th parade and reading of the Founding Documents?

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Marcus ’88 Moves on Racial Issues, 5

Ken Marcus ’88 is the (recently confirmed) Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights, a position which places him at the center of the debate about racial diversity in higher education. Marcus, and his colleagues in the Justice Department, have started the process of getting rid of racial preferences. Let’s spend a week discussing their efforts. Day 5.

“It remains an enduring challenge to our nation’s education system to reconcile the pursuit of diversity with the constitutional promise of equal treatment and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote for the 4-to-3 majority.

Some colleges, such as Duke and Bucknell universities, said they would wait to see how the Education Department proceeds in issuing new guidance. Other colleges said they would proceed with diversifying their campuses as the Supreme Court intended.

Melodie Jackson, a Harvard spokeswoman, said the university would “continue to vigorously defend its right, and that of all colleges and universities, to consider race as one factor among many in college admissions, which has been upheld by the Supreme Court for more than 40 years.”

A spokeswoman for the University of Michigan, which won a major Supreme Court case in 2003, suggested that the flagship university would like more freedom to consider race, not less. But it is already constrained by state law. After the case, Michigan voters enacted a constitutional ban on race-conscious college admissions policies.

Where are we headed? Tough to know!

1) Discrimination against Asian-Americans is significant, unpopular and very hard to justify. A Republican Supreme Court is going to find it hard to allow it to continue, at least officially. I suspect that decisions like Fisher v. Texas are in trouble, although any eventual over-turning might be several years out.

2) The Deep State of elite education is not so easily defeated. Affirmative Action — treating applicants differently on the basis of their race — is already illegal in states like California and Michigan and, yet, it still goes on sub rosa.

3) Elite institutions like Harvard are determined and resourceful. Their defense in the current lawsuit is, quite frankly, genius. Harvard creates a personal rating for all applicants. Asian-Americans do much worse on this metric. Once you account for these scores, Harvard (probably!) does not discriminate. And, since those (totally opaque!) scores are under Harvard’s complete control, there is no way to prove that it is discriminating or to stop it from doing so.

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Sawyer Fliers

Forwarded by a faculty member:

From: “Haynes, Leticia”
Date: July 12, 2018 at 6:10:36 PM GMT+2
To: WILLIAMS-PERSONNEL@LISTSERV.WILLIAMS.EDU
Subject: Fliers recently discovered in Sawyer Library

Williams faculty, staff and students,

On Monday, July 9, a faculty member reported finding a large number of copies of a flier in the library stacks. The fliers contain content that is hard to interpret overall, but some of the images and statements are clearly offensive to college values. This was the second such flier found in the library in the past week. Images of both are below.

Flier front

Flier back

1) How are these images “clearly offensive?” I realize that the Confederacy is, in and of itself, offensive to many Ephs but are we really required to erase history? I hope not!

2) How can the “statements” here by offensive? Aren’t they just accurate Bible quotes?

3) What is up with the Star of David?

One nice aspect of these controversies is that they provide an excuse to learn some history. Below, from Wikipedia, is an actual Confederate $500 note.

CSA-T2-$500-1861

I did a reverse image search and came up with these possible sources for the Williams flyer. Earliest reference I can find is this (incomprehensible to me) discussion thread.

4) The third image from the e-mail is, obviously, problematic.

Horizontal flier

The link to a Democracy Now story is perplexing. Democracy Now is a lefty news network, not the usual information source (I assume!) for nativist troublemakers. Is the intent here to heighten the contradictions on the left? I really don’t know.

Back to Haynes’s e-mail:

Independent of content, outside materials may only be distributed on campus with college permission. Leaving the fliers in the stacks was a violation of these rules.

Really? The College has a history of only enforcing rules against those whose politics it dislikes. The student group Uncomfortable Learning was repeatedly hassled about violating “rules” that Williams never enforced against liberal student groups.

I also find this phrasing confusing. Does the College require permission for outside groups to distribute stuff (which seems sensible) or for the distribution of “outside materials”? That seems nuts. If Williams Democrats want to distribute “outside materials” — like a flyer from the Bernie campaign — do they really need “permission?” I doubt it! I suspect that this is just sloppy writing (and thinking?) from the Administration.

Using security footage, and guided by information from the new report, Campus Safety and Security (CSS) isolated pictures of the individuals we believe responsible. By sharing this information with counterparts at nearby schools CSS was able to help police identify one of the people, who, we learned, resides in another state. He is now banned from campus.

Note the subtle spin. Why bother telling us that he resides in “another state” unless they want us to think that he is far, far away and that we don’t need to worry about it? But if that other state is Vermont, then this guy might live closer to campus than Pittsfield!

Meanwhile, CSS received a corroborating report from a witness who had seen the second individual in the Sawyer lobby during the July 4th reading of the founding documents. The individual was carrying an American flag on a short pole, and inserted themselves into a peaceful student protest at the event. A photo of this person is also included below.

July 4 suspect at protest

1) Kudos to Hayes and Klass for their transparency. The more details — like these photos — which they provide to the community, the better.

2) Can anyone parse the symbol on the hat? UPDATE: Thanks to comments below, seems that this is just a standard “FD NY” — New York City Fire Department — hat.

3) I assume that the “peaceful student protest” referred to is those folks dressed in black who marched in the July 4th parade and then went to the reading. Was every single one of them a student? I have my doubts!

If you have seen them, or have other information that may aid in identifying them, please contact Campus Safety and Security at 413-597-4444. Once a person is banned from campus any attempt to return is considered trespassing and the trespasser may be subject to arrest.

We would like to thank CSS, our colleagues at Bennington College, the Williamstown Police Department, and the Williams community for helping protect the inclusive environment the college is committed to upholding.

Sincerely,

Leticia S. E. Haynes, VP for Institutional Diversity and Equity
Steve Klass, VP for Campus Life

1) The reference to Bennington College makes me think that the banned person lives in Vermont. Does anyone know what group he is associated with?

2) Since this is, obviously, not a false flag operation — unlike many recent events on campus — the closest historical analog is probably Mary Jane Hitler.

3) There are many other issues to discuss here. Worth spending more time on?

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