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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.

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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?

restrictions

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.

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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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Needham ’04 Leads Coup at Heritage Foundation

From The Atlantic:

The drama over the removal of the president of the Heritage Foundation, Jim DeMint, is partly classic Washington power politics. But it also reflects tensions over the organization’s relationship with the Trump administration and with Trumpist ideology.

DeMint, the former South Carolina senator who has led the conservative institution since 2013, was ousted on Tuesday after a meeting of Heritage’s board, which voted unanimously to remove him. News of DeMint’s likely imminent departure was first reported by Politico last week.

Needham_Mike_TDS_loThe driving force behind DeMint’s ouster, according to multiple sources close to the organization, was Mike Needham, the CEO of Heritage Action for America, the organization’s political arm. Needham, these sources say, made a power play to push DeMint out, and is appealing to both pro- and anti-Trump elements to accomplish it.

“Needham has been laying the groundwork for this for two years,” said a source close to Heritage. “He’s been badmouthing DeMint to board members for a long time. He’s got his sights set on taking over the whole thing eventually.” According to a senior Republican congressional aide, Needham has been “trashing” DeMint to board members and saying that people in the White House and Congress prefer to deal with him rather than DeMint.

Multiple people close to the situation called DeMint’s ouster a “coup,” and said the driving force behind it was not philosophical but old-fashioned ambition and power politics. “This is an old-as-time story,” said one source.

Several people familiar with Needham’s jockeying said he has successfully exploited the growing philosophical tensions on the American right—and, specifically, on the board of Heritage—to get his way.

To the Trump-averse elements on the board, Needham has pointed to DeMint’s growing coziness with the new administration as evidence that the think tank, a beacon of movement conservatism, needs a new steward. At the same time, Needham has been telling pro-Trump board members like Rebekah Mercer that Heritage needs a leader who will follow the president’s lead—even going so far as to float White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, a key Mercer ally, as a potential future president, according to one source.

As always, we wish Ephs success in their chosen fields. Needham, obviously, seeks to increase his stature/power in Washington politics. Do our readers have any advice? My guess is that Needham is positioning himself as a future White House chief of staff. Other options?

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Safety Dance Continues II

Let’s discuss the latest Safety Dance court order (pdf). Day 2 of 3.

s2

rossiThat is a fairly harsh smackdown of Doe’s attorney, Stacey Elin Rossi. Are such direct criticisms of lawyerly competence common in court decisions? Are they justified in this case? Does this sort of language provide us with any clues as to where Judge Posner’s sympathies may lie?

lapp As we have commented before, no courtroom battle between the rich (Williams College and its highly experienced lead attorney Daryl Lapp) and the poor (John Doe, the son of poor Ecuadoran immigrants) is ever fair. But Lapp has been involved in several (a score?) of cases like Safety Dance. I believe that this is Rossi’s first. (Although the way that Title IX has evolved at Williams and elsewhere, she may eventually build up a thriving business. Informed legal commentary welcome!

The decision continues:

The evidence of gender-based discrimination offered in the complaint is thin. The unusual feature of this case, however, is that Plaintiff alleges that he was himself a victim of harassment, and even a physical assault, by the party he was alleged to have victimized. His allegations include claims that his own complaints of harassment were treated with less seriousness than the alleged victim’s complaints and that responsible administrators were more solicitous of her because of her gender than of him. At this stage, these allegations are sufficient to boost the complaint over the Rule 12 threshold.

A fair reading of the documents so far would convince most people that Doe’s allegations are most likely true. Smith, while a Williams employee, did slap him. His complaints were, obviously, treated much less seriously. The College was incredible solicitous of Smith. (And we still need to figure out how she got hired by Williams in the first place.) But the College will argue that, even if all of that is true, it was not driven by anti-male bias and that, therefore, Title IX does not apply. How can Doe demonstrate otherwise? What aspects of the case would you urge him to focus on?

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Safety Dance Continues I

Let’s discuss the latest Safety Dance court order (pdf). Day 1 of 3.

This is the best one paragraph summary of where we are:

s1

Kudos to Judge Michael Ponsor (and/or his clerk).

The central issues of the case are not so much: Is John Doe a bad guy? (Answer: Probably. It is not easy to get punished by Williams twice for sexual assault.) Nor is it: Should we believe Susan Smith? (Answer: Probably not. She is the very picture of a woman scorned.) The two key issues that the court will care about are:

1) What is the nature of the (implicit and explicit) contract between Williams and an enrolled student? The College would like to maintain that this contract is so loose that it can, more or less, kick anyone out, for any reason, and following any procedure that it chooses. As former Williams professor KC Johnson has blogged about extensively, several courts have been sympathetic to this view. Unfortunately (for Williams), courts in its jurisdiction have been less willing (at Amherst and at Brandeis) to grant the colleges free reign.[1] John Doe will argue that the College, implicitly, promises to not expel its students unfairly. Since he was unfairly expelled, the College has broken the contract.

2) Is there (and how can a plaintiff demonstrate) anti-male bias in disciplinary proceedings at Williams? This is a much harder task for John Doe, with much less support in other court cases. (Read The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America’s Universities by KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor for more details.)

a) John Doe can try to provide evidence of anti-male comments/behavior at Williams, but we have not seen much of that in the exhibits so far. What we have seen is lots of anti-Doe comments and, to a lesser extent, anti-accused-students comments. But such complaints are more in the category of generic criticisms of the overall process itself. They aren’t anti-male per se.

b) Doe can try to argue anti-male bias on the basis of disparate impact:

Disparate impact in United States labor law refers to practices in employment, housing, and other areas that adversely affect one group of people of a protected characteristic more than another, even though rules applied by employers or landlords are formally neutral. Although the protected classes vary by statute, most federal civil rights laws protect based on race, color, religion, national origin, and sex as protected traits, and some laws include disability status and other traits as well.

Since all (?) the students punished by Williams for sexual assaults have been male, there is a case to be made. Of course, right-wingers like me think that disparate impact arguments are garbage, that we should no more expect an equal number of women (as men) to be expelled by Williams for sexual assault than we should expect an equal number of women (as men) to finish in the top 100 in the Boston Marathon. But there is no denying that, in other contexts, courts have used disparate impact to make findings of bias.[2]

Regardless of the above, however, Williams should settle this case. If they don’t, discovery will be a nightmare.

[1] I suspect that I am messing up terminology and other issues. Safety Dance is currently being adjudicated in a District Court. Could a lawyer-reader clarify whether Brandeis and Amherst precedents apply?)

[2] Has disparate impact ever worked as an argument in a college sexual assault case? Not that I know of.

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March Safety Dance Hearing

Latest update on Safety Dance:

Electronic Clerk’s Notes for proceedings held before Judge Michael A. Ponsor: Motion Hearing held on 3/28/2017 re [29] MOTION for Reconsideration filed by Williams College, [31] MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim filed by Williams College, [4] First MOTION for Preliminary Injunction John Doe v. Williams College filed by John Doe. Arguments heard. Court denies Motion for Reconsideration, denies Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Court takes Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss under advisement. Orders to issue. (Court Reporter: Sarah Mubarek, Philbin & Associates, 413-733-4078) (Attorneys present: Rossi, Lapp, Kelly) (Healy, Bethaney)

Can anyone interpret this?

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College Council Has No Power Over Invited Speakers

An alum tried to get this letter published in the Record:

To the editor,

Skylar Smith’s ’18 February 22 article “CC Approves Uncomfortable Learning as an RSO” (and the comments therein from Lizzy Hibbard ’19) demonstrated a misunderstanding of the College’s new policy with regard to outside funding for invited speakers. Any Registered Student Organization may invite someone to speak at Williams even if the funding for that speaker comes from an alumnus or some other non-Williams organization. The RSO must, of course, abide by the new rules, specifically by revealing the source of the funding to Williams and by providing at least two weeks notice before the event. But, as Director of Media Relations Mary Dettloff confirmed to me, neither CC nor any other student organization can prevent an RSO from inviting a speaker. Only Williams itself may ban a speaker, as it did last year in the case of John Derbyshire.

Annoyingly, the Record refused to publish this letter, choosing instead to issue this correction:

correction

This matters because it is bad enough that Williams empowers Adam Falk to ban speakers with whom he disagrees. If College Council could ban student-invited (faculty-invited?) speakers, madness would follow. One Eph censor is enough!

UPDATE: The headline of the physical Record last week was “CC passes free speech resolution 16-3-1.” There was also this photo caption: “Kevin Mercadante ’17 introduces a resolution intended to enshrine speech and protect individual rights to disagree and protest.” Alas, there is no associated news story that I can find, either on-line or in the paper itself. Can anyone provide details? The College Council website does not allow outsides to see the current year’s agenda or minutes. Sad!

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Improving International Yield

An e-mail on the effort to improve our yield of accepted international students:

Hi everyone,

Thank you to all those who came to the meeting tonight! It was wonderful meeting you in person. For those who could not make it, below are some of the topics we talked about and information I shared.

Spring Yield Initiatives for Class of 2021 –

1) Connecting via email – All newly admitted international students will be connected to a current international student, ideally based on common interest or geography. I will reach out to you with the information of the students you will be connecting with.

2) Phone/Skype – a – thon – calling all admitted international students who have not yet made a decision on their admission offer. Calls will be made by interested current students and myself. I (Misha) will send out an email listing the dates and times for these calls.

Some helpful links with information about Williams.

How to get to Williams – https://admission.williams.edu/visit/getting-here/
Student Profile 2016-17 – https://admission.williams.edu/files/Student-Profile-2016-2017.pdf
Williams Viewbook – https://admission.williams.edu/viewbook/
Course Catalog – http://catalog.williams.edu/
Community engagement and learning – https://learning-in-action.williams.edu/
Events Calendar – https://events.williams.edu/

A few things to remember when connecting with new admitted students:

Please do not offer any visa advice. All visa related questions should be directed to Dean Pretto. With the changing immigration policies, the experiences of those applying for the F-1 visa this summer may be different from yours, so it is imperative that none of us (including me) offer any advice on visas or visas process.
If you do not have the answer to a question, please send it my way. I would be happy to answer it on behalf of you.
As you reflect on your time at Williams and share your insights, please be honest and positive. There may have been time when the weather or the small size of the town or something else may have been a less than ideal experience, but please think of the bigger picture and focus on the positives. If you receive any especially difficult questions that you do not feel comfortable answering, please feel free to send them to me.
All questions regarding orientation schedule and flights can be directed to Dean Pretto.

Once again, thank you for being willing to yield the class of 2021! We hope that as many students as possible will choose to Williams and join our thriving international community.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best wishes,
Misha

My anonymous correspondent bolded the section above.

What other efforts does Williams make to improve its yield? I would assume that special efforts are made in areas where Williams yields particularly poorly — especially among African-Americans, but also, I bet, among Hispanics and lower income families — but I don’t know the details. Does anyone?

What advice would you have for Williams about how to improve yield?

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Choose Williams Over Harvard

In celebration of previews, reasons why you should choose Williams.

There are several hundreds high school seniors¹ who have been admitted to both Williams and Harvard (and Yale and Princeton and Stanford and . . .). Fewer than 10% of them will choose Williams over these more famous schools. Some of them are making the right choice. They will be better off at Harvard, for various reasons. But at least half of them are making the wrong choice. They (you?) would be better off at Williams. Why?

1) Your professors would know your name. The average Harvard undergraduate is known by name to only a few faculty members. Many students graduate unknown to any faculty. The typical professor at Harvard is primarily concerned with making important contributions to her field. The typical professor at Williams is primarily concerned with educating the undergraduates in her classes. Consider this post by Harvard professor Greg Mankiw, who teaches EC 10, the equivalent of Williams ECON 110/120, to over 750 students each year.

Being an ec 10 section leader is one of the best teaching jobs at Harvard. You can revisit the principles of economics, mentor some of the world’s best undergraduates, and hone your speaking skills. In your section, you might even have the next Andrei Shleifer or Ben Bernanke (two well-known ec 10 alums). And believe it or not, we even pay you for this!

If you are a graduate student at Harvard or another Boston-area university and have a strong background in economics, I hope you will consider becoming a section leader in ec 10 next year. Applications are encouraged from PhD students, law students, and master’s students in business and public policy.

Take a year of Economics at Harvard, and not a single professor will know your name. Instead, you will be taught and graded by (poorly paid) graduate students, many with no more than a BA, often not even in economics! But, don’t worry, you will be doing a good deed by providing these students with a chance to “hone” their “speaking skills.”

2) You will get feedback on your work from faculty at Williams, not from inexperienced graduate students. More than 90% of the written comments (as well as the grades) on undergraduate papers at Harvard are produced by people other than tenured (or tenure track) faculty. The same is true in science labs and math classes. EC 10 is a particularly egregious example, but the vast majority of classes taken by undergraduates are similar in structure. Harvard professors are too busy to read and comment on undergraduate prose.

3) You would have the chance to do many things at Williams. At Harvard it is extremely difficult to do more than one thing in a serious fashion. If you play a sport or write for the paper or sing in an a cappella group at Harvard, it is difficult to do much of anything else. At Williams, it is common — even expected — that students will have a variety of non-academic interests that they pursue passionately. At Harvard, the goal is a well-rounded class, with each student being top notch in something. At Williams, the ideal is a class full of well-rounded people.

4) You would have a single room for three years at Williams. The housing situation at Harvard is horrible, at least if you care about privacy. Most sophomores and the majority of juniors do not have a single room for the entire year. Only at Harvard will you learn the joys of a “walk-through single” — a room which is theoretically a single but which another student must walk through to get to her room.

5) You would have the opportunity to be a Junior Advisor at Williams and to serve on the JA Selection Committee and to serve on the Honor Committee. No undergraduate student serves in these roles at Harvard because Harvard does not allow undergraduates to run their own affairs. Harvard does not trust its students. Williams does.

6) The President of Williams, Adam Falk, cares about your education specifically, not just about the education of Williams undergraduates in general. The President of Harvard, Drew Faust, has bigger fish to fry. Don’t believe me? Just e-mail both of them. Tell them about your situation and concerns. See who responds and see what they say.

Of course, there are costs to turning down Harvard. Your friends and family won’t be nearly as impressed. Your Aunt Tillie will always think that you actually go to “Williams and Mary.” You’ll be far away from a city for four years. But, all in all, a majority of the students who choose Harvard over Williams would have been better off if they had chosen otherwise.

Choose wisely.

¹The first post in this series was 11 years ago, inspired by a newspaper story about 18 year-old Julia Sendor, who was admitted to both Harvard and Williams. Julia ended up choosing Williams (at least partly “because of the snowy mountains and maple syrup”), becoming a member of the class of 2008, winning a Udall Foundation Scholarship in Environmental Studies. Best part of that post is the congratulations from her proud JA.

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How To Lobby Alumni

How to lobby alumni to help you change college policy:

  1. Get organized first. You only have so many opportunities to get alums to care about the issue that has you all worked up. Actually, you probably only have one opportunity. Create an organization, select officers, put up a web page, recruit a “advisory board” of professors and staff, post of list of all the students who have signed on as supporters, decide on what, specifically, you want the administration to do (including packages of the minimal set of things you’d accept and the maximal set that the administration could conceivably grant). See here for a concrete example.
  2. Be realistic in your goals. You can demand that the College pave the walkways with chocolate, but alumni are unlikely to be impressed with your reasonableness. It is fine to have a big picture goal in mind, but what specific incremental step would you like the administration to take right now. You may want a Chicano Studies department, but what about a visiting professor next year? Some alumni will be in favor of your larger goals — and, by all means, sign them up to help with that — but, to be most effective, you want most alumni to, at minimum, think to themselves, “That doesn’t seem too outrageuous. Why won’t Morty go along?”
  3. Don’t be deluded into thinking that you can have a meaningful effect on alumni fundraising. The College’s fundraising machinery is massive, organized and professional. Virtually nothing that you could possibly say or do would influence it. Even a change that might conceivably have the alumni up in arms — something on the scale of ending Winter Study or the JA system — would not provide enough fodder to change the dollars flowing in. A college that could take the lead in ending fraternities can ride out almost any level of alumni frustration.
  4. Several thousand more words of advice below the break:

    Read more

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African-American Yield Comparison

Williams yields African-American accepted students at a lower rates than (some of) its peers.

frosh-2014W-B

Thanks to a commentator (who should join us as a blogger!) for pointing this out. He also shared (created?) this analysis:

QtPa0Ak - Imgur

1) Thanks for doing this! We need more peer comparisons at EphBlog. This topic would also make for a good Record article and/or senior thesis.

2) Although we compare poorly with Pomona, we do fine relative to many other colleges. So, maybe the glass is half full? I know that the Admissions Office has devoted a lot of time/money/personnel to African-American enrollment.

3) The unknown factor here is standards. The easiest way to get a very high yield among African-American students is to have much lower standards than your peer colleges. If Pomoma lets in a lot of low quality African-American applicants — high school students that Williams/Amherst/Brown/Dartmouth all reject — then Pomona is going to do very well in yielding those students.

4) The most outlier strategy among elite LACs when it comes to African-American applicants is Middlebury’s: admit/enroll fewer. In the class of 2020 (pdf), only 4% of the students are African-American. Thoughts on this?

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Bias Incident Response Task Force Report

Before it disappears in a fit of historical memory-holing, let’s archive portions of the Bias Incident Response Task Force Report from October 2012:

On November 11, 2011, the words “All Niggers Must Die” were written on a wall on the fourth floor of Prospect Hall. This hate crime caused a large number of our Black community members to feel targeted and unsafe and, overall, placed extraordinary stress on the fabric of the campus. A variety of associated issues and concerns were exposed in subsequent open mic events, campus conversations, and related gatherings. Among the concerns that were raised by many members of the campus community were pointed criticisms of the administration’s initial response to, and early communications about, the crime.

President Falk commissioned the Bias Incident Response Task Force (BIRTF) as the central component of a detailed debriefing of both the initial incident response and related protocols.

This was written almost a year after the event, by which time it was obvious that the entire incident was a “hate hoax.” This graffiti was written by student of color Jess Torres ’12.

Perhaps most important, we affirmed the need to ensure that we’re providing immediate, meaningful, and effective support to the most affected parties, after which we should expand our support to individuals and groups as we track the impact of the incident across campus and over time. This includes the establishment of physical and virtual safe spaces for post-event processing and dialogue, as well as additional components of an institutional infrastructure of counseling and support.

The best “support” that Williams could provide is to tell people that this was a hoax, that minority students have nothing to fear from white racists wondering the hallways of Prospect.

If the Record were a better paper, it would revisit this topic next fall, call up the members of this task force and ask them some hard questions.

The “Culture of Silence”

Perhaps the most frustrating – and enabling – campus condition is what students and others have termed the “culture of silence.” In fact, the name of the student organization that developed in response to the Prospect hate crime is Students Against Silence. While we recognized the highly complex nature of this phenomenon, our conversations focused on a couple of related questions:

What prevents students, faculty, and staff from taking advantage of the reporting websites and formal support structures that exist? If people want to talk about their experiences and concerns, are there unknown barriers to using existing channels more frequently and consistently?
What is it about our campus culture that allows students to believe they can behave like this? Once they leave here for graduate school or the workplace, their behavior changes, by and large, because they know this isn’t acceptable anywhere else. Why does it feel acceptable to them here?

The students on the Task Force explained that this is such a small, interconnected place that if you do something that leads to a falling-out with your team or your close circle of friends, you have few places left to turn. The prevailing social pressure – particularly on women – is not to make waves, not to “make life harder than it needs to be.” There was a strong perception that more people would report acts of discrimination, harassment, and assault if the social backlash to reporting weren’t so strong.

This perception that Williams’ size and distinctive social interconnectedness – typically considered to be positive features – work against us in this way resonates with our perceptions of why staff and faculty also hesitate to report the incidents of discrimination that they deal with.

Or, just maybe, there are fewer instances of actual discrimination at Williams than there are almost anyplace else in the world.

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Grounded: An Essay on the Passing of a Roommate

Frank and I had been in touch before I moved overseas last year. Despite the progression of his ALS, he seemed to have come to terms with his imminent passing.

“My breathing (biggest issue), walking, talking, and muscle mass have all declined,” he wrote me in February 2016. “ALS has no treatment or cure so all you can do is manage your symptoms. I just live day to day and try to remain positive.”

But I couldn’t square a diminishing “Franco” with the hardy athlete I had known at Williams. I envisioned Frank – once our red-headed, speedy cornerback – in a wheelchair, on oxygen and his muscles withered away.

Frank was my roommate and best friend in college. He was a small-town boy from nearby Hoosick Falls, NY, the first person in his family to attend college. I was the diplomat’s son, a boarding school product, who had grown up in Asia. Despite the different backgrounds, we clicked. The glue was Williams football in the fall of 1982. We were freshmen defensive backs, low men on the totem pole, who held bags, played dummy defense and sat the bench during games. Having had success in football in high school, we were humbled, and we ended up largely laughing at ourselves and our predicament.

The memories of practices on Cole Field – it’s the practices I remember, not the games — are indelible. Crisp fall days turning cold and dark as September gave way to November. Two-a-days, tackling drills, running sprints – we were building fortitude and friendship, both drenched in sweat. Frank is in the middle of the memories, his helmet wearing high on his head, his arms pumping when he ran, and his cackling laugh. Dick Farley, who would later be inducted into the Football Hall of Fame, was then the defensive backs coach. He was ornery, tough and spare with compliments. If you got a “not bad” from him, you knew you had done well. We practiced hard, overcame injuries and played all four years. A copy of the football program from 1984 has a full-page photo of Frank on the front, leaping high, arms outstretched, in an attempt to block a punt. He is completely airborne.

1984_Football_Program002

Off the field, Frank was organized and responsible, a product, I think, of having become the man of the house at an early age when his father left the family. Frank helped raise his three siblings. His room in our suite was always neat and his homework done. He had a way of retreating home to Hoosick Falls on the weekends, finishing his papers there and coming back refreshed while the rest of us – at least me – felt woefully behind the academic curve. Largely a tee-totaler, Frank was amused by our late-night antics. I recollect his very presence lent some balance to a lifestyle that could be raucous.

Life opened up for Frank after college. He taught and coached in Florida before getting the international bug and teaching in Brussels at an international school. The world became the small-town boy’s oyster. He would take school football and basketball teams around Europe and the Middle East for competitions, and he traveled to northern Italy where his father’s family came from. Those were, in retrospect, the happiest times of his life, next to the birth of his three children.

The older we get, the more we wonder how we will pass on. Frank died on February 16, 2017 at the age of 52, felled by a crippling disease for which there is no cure and no clear cause. Was it abetted by stress brought on by life’s ups and downs? Or toxicity in the soil from a plastics factory in Hoosick Falls? Or, as a medical doctor classmate wonders, blows to the head (and likely concussions) Frank suffered in football?

Thousands of miles away in Central Asia, I can only wonder. I reread Frank’s sentiments in that last email. They included his best friends at Williams.

“If I go tomorrow I have no wants and am content with the life I have had and the relationships I have made,” Frank wrote. “Please give those same regards to Clouder, Dunc, Howie, and Kenard if you talk with them. I think of them often also.”

Franco’s passing makes more tenuous the grasp of the past; there’s a slipping away. The airborne become grounded.

— written by Jeff Lilley ’86 about Frank Morandi ’86. Thanks to Williams College Archives and Special Collections for the image.

Condolences to all.

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Class of 2021 Admissions Data IV

Let’s discus admissions data for the class of 2021. Key table:

admi2

Today is Day 4. For me, the most interesting unknown is: Does Williams discriminate against Asian-American applicants and, if so, by how much? That Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford discriminate is beyond dispute. Indeed, the best historical parallel is with the rampant bias against Jews hundred years ago. (See The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton by Jerome Karabel for a magisterial history.) But Jews at Williams: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Class at a New England Liberal Arts College argues — fairly conclusively, I think — that Williams did not discriminate against Jews, either at all, much less to the same extent. The basic reason was not primarily that Williams was more well-disposed towards Jews than Harvard/Yale/Princeton. Instead, Jews were less likely to apply to Williams and/or attend Williams if accepted.

Might the same dynamic apply in the case of Asian-Americans? The lower yield for Asian-Americans might provide some indirect evidence for such a claim. At the very least, I would predict that Williams has been doing less discrimination for fewer years than HYP. At the same time, the table we discussed last week is worrying:

ccf_20170201_reeves_2

If about the same raw number of Asian-Americans and whites have Williams-caliber SAT scores, we would expect about the same number of whites/Asians in each Williams class. If the ratio is actually 4:1, and if Williams does not discriminate, than Asian-Americans must be much less likely to apply and/or less likely to enroll if accepted. Thoughts?

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Class of 2021 Admissions Data III

Let’s discus admissions data for the class of 2021. Key table:

admi2

Today is Day 3.

Will the College really yield less than 10% of the 187 black students it accepted during regular admissions? That would be a shockingly low number. Perhaps a close read of Peter Nurnberg’s ’09 thesis on matriculation decisions would tell us if this number is typical. The 43 number for the class of 2020 is not unusual, but there is a fair amount of volatility. The last few years have been 51, 35, 64 and 59.

I believe that there is a significant gender skew on African-American admissions, with women outnumbering men. Does anyone have the exact numbers? In the class of 2010, it was 13 men and 31 women.

Any suggestions for how the College should do better with African-Americans? It seems like more ought to be done with some of the African-American faculty? If I got a private lunch with, say, Neil Roberts, I would be more likely to choose Williams. Also:

One of the great problems that Williams faces in admissions is attracting enough/any African-American applicants will Williams-caliber credentials. Partly, this is because Williams, because of its location and size, is less attractive (on average) to African-American applicants than it is to other applicants. (The same is probably true for international students). But, much more important is the intense competition for elite African-American students from schools like Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford. Almost any African-American applicant with the high school grades and standardized test scores which would place her in the normal range for academic admission (AR 1 and 2) will be accepted at one or more of HYPS. (This is not true of, say, Chinese-American applicants.) Since 90% of applicants (and probably a higher percentage of African-American applicants) admitted to the College and one of these 4 choose HYPS over Williams, this means that Williams has little choice but to accept many African-American applicants who we would not accept were they Chinese-American.

The only practical solution to convince such students to choose Williams is to make it worth their while. And the Tyng (money for graduate school and extra money while at Williams) is the best method available. Therefore, the College should award almost all Tyng Scholarships to African-American applicants, thereby luring 4-8 African-American applicants away from HYPS and to Williams each year. (With luck, HYPS won’t feel compelled to match our offers.) For legal reasons, Williams might need to make an occasional offer to someone who was not African-American, but I doubt that the Department of Justice would be making trouble against these sorts of efforts anytime soon.

As true now as it was in 2009.

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Class of 2021 Admissions Data II

Let’s discus admissions data for the class of 2021. Key table:

admi2

Today is Day 2.

No one should be surprised that Williams yields whites better than it yields any other group. Is that a problem or an opportunity? I bet that white students from rich families who attended elite high schools are, on average, the happiest students at Williams. If so, should we admit more of them?

A similar analysis applies to legacies, the vast majority of whom are white. (Note that the legacy numbers are much iffier because the College does not (regularly) publish the exact numbers. President Falk usually provides an estimate of 1/7th but that certainly varies year-to-year. Indeed, the exact definition of “legacy” matters. We always include the children of alumni, never (?) the nieces/nephews and sometimes (?) the grandchildren. In any event, the 79 here is my estimate, equal to 1/7th of the 553 students in the class.)

I am amazed that we yield so well among legacies. Will 79 or so of the 86 legacies we admitted choose to enroll. That seems much too high to me. I know, just in my personal circle of friends, two legacy children admitted to Williams who went Ivy instead. Then again, perhaps the vast majority of those 86 were admitted early decision? Informed commentary welcome.

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